Text description provided by the architects. The neighbourhood and Passage de Melun
Ideally located in a working-class neighbourhood with varied urban fabric near Buttes Chaumont, this site is in a quiet small street, not far from the shops on Rue de Meaux. Passage de Melun is a dense, narrow, small street, with buildings reaching an average height of 20 metres or six storeys.
Although the plot is difficult, because it is small (30 metres wide by 12 metres deep) with no garden, it has major assets because of the possibility of reaching an agreement for sharing a court area with the adjacent project. This is a golden opportunity to create an efficient, generous, contemporary block plan that contributes to the profile of the street as well as to the quality of the apartments and the neighbourhood.
Profile of the street
Based on the assumption that, in a dense urban area, it is more pleasant to live on an upper floor, we built vertically up to the sixth floor level. The view of the Eiffel Tower from the fifth and sixth floor, highlighted by the property developer, was also a convincing attraction for our "social housing" scheme. This idea inspired us to create two small, smooth “tower blocks”, separated by a gap in which trees are planted. This gap, crossed by “footbridge-balconies”, lets the sun into the street from the south side and allows neighbours to enjoy views deep into the inner court space. This beam of sunshine shining onto the footpath across the street guarantees the lasting quality and the balance of the new profile of the street, which would have otherwise been plunged into the shadow of this new project.
Our scheme takes inspiration from the context by making maximum use of a small plot, but, in return, provides it with a sunny garden that is enjoyed by both residents of our project and passers-by. Our typical floor plan minimises the impact of the floor landing by serving two adjacent 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom apartments as well as a third apartment that is accessed via a footbridge-gallery that also acts as a private balcony.
REAL HOUSING QUALITY
Our approach consists of giving every apartment all the features of high-quality architecture in a relatively high-density setting, whatever the type of housing unit, from 2-bedroom to 4-bedroom:
- large windows.
- 3-bedroom through apartments (opening onto two opposite sides), 2-bedroom corner apartments on the south and east, and 4-bedroom apartments opening onto three sides.
- well-proportioned, very pleasant living rooms giving onto balconies and patios
- large bedrooms that can easily accommodate additional functions
- spacious, well-lit kitchens, directly connected to balconies, with a real space for meals.
These comfortably-sized balconies guarantee their lasting functional qualities and ensure the occupiers’ attachment to their apartments. There are duplex apartments on the 5th and 6th floor.
Common areas on ground floor
The winter garden entrance lobby, which occupies the entire area between the street and the inner court area, is a generous through space and meeting-place. Its simple shape makes it easy to maintain. We planted a stratum with trees in this area, forming dense greenery that is visible from everywhere. The floor is covered with purple resin and the V-columns that lift the building off the ground are in unsurfaced exposed concrete.
Two closed spaces contain the bicycle room and the room for gardening equipment. The scheme is enveloped in an iridescent metal “skin” (made up of 50 cm wide by 2.60m high cladding panels in Gold Perla powder-coated aluminium, produced by Arcelor Mittal) which changes colour according to the variations of light and the seasons. In this scheme, we reconcile contemporary architecture with the functional quality and everyday comfort of a small apartment building.