LocationAvenue de la Garonnette, 31000 Toulouse, France
Design office/ Bureau d’EtudeSLH Ingénierie
Text description provided by the architects. The project proposes six apartments in the historic heart of the city of Toulouse, on Avenue Garonnette. Two historical elements explain the particularities of the project site: the division of land in the neighbourhood into allotments, and the drying up in 1954 of the Garonnette, a previous branch of the Garonne. The project site is thus characterised by a long and narrow plot located on the floodplain of the river where the height of submersion could reach 4m.
In this area, the urban fabric is disparate: warehouses, individual homes, collective housing, all presenting varying construction heights and architectural aesthetics. The project aims to highlight the qualities of the site and the surroundings: a remarkable tree on its northern boundary, a pedestrian pathway along the water rill tracing the river-branch on Avenue Garonnette and the lush vegetation and gardens of the Clary hotel in front of the plot. The analysis of the surrounding constructions guided the positioning of built volumes and empty spaces inside the parcel to encourage views to these remarkable elements.
The plot is bordered to the south by terraced buildings, to the north by a house with its garden and to the back by an apartment building courtyard. The pedestrian and vehicle accesses are located on Avenue Garonnette, the facade on the ground floor is set back to create a sheltered space outside the entrance. The ground floor, free from any apartments, opens up under the volumes of the apartments on the upper floors and accommodates parking for vehicles and bicycles.
The project consists of two successive cubes implanted in the length of the parcel, each consisting of three double-exposed apartments. A central exterior staircase located in the centre gives access to the apartments. All apartments have a private terrace opening up onto the central courtyard, and the street-side apartments have a second terrace offering an open vista over the green streetscape.
The street facade is cladded entirely of a metal skin of Corten steel, composed of blinds on the upper floors and solid panels on the recessed façade of the ground floor. This cladding also integrates the outdoor lighting ceiling fixtures, as well as the mailboxes and technical elements alongside the pedestrian access gates, all cladded in Corten. On the upper floor façades, the Corten skin becomes a screen composed of fixed or accordion opening louvers, creating an animated façade when open and a seamless screen surface when closed. The rear façade is composed in a similar way to the street facade whereas, on the shared boundaries, the north facade and the south façade overlooking existing buildings are cladded in solid Corten-color coated steel panels. The space of the courtyard is emphasized by a filter composed of Corten blades cut along a curved pattern. These elements fixed onto the edges of the balcony slabs preserve the privacy of the apartment terraces.
Using a unique material for the whole project emphasizes a clear and consistent project image in a heterogeneous surrounding context. The range of uses of Corten steel demonstrates the potential of this material, used both as façade or ceiling cladding, as perforated or solid sheets, for doors, shutters and louvers. The use of the same color coated steel sheets on the shared boundaries accentuates the unity sought after by this project.