- Architect In Charge:Pauline Degeorges
Text description provided by the architects. Named after its architect, the Villa Maillard is a landmark building on Avenue de la Marne heading into the city of Tourcoing. Uncared for and neglected for a long time, the Villa Maillard is now fully renovated and expanded to host eight social housing units in the heart of a splendid garden.
A tribute to architectural artistry. Today regarded as a historical building by the very detractors project who wanted to leave it unchanged, the Anglo-Norman style villa was already an eccentric piece when it was built in the 1930's. Reminiscent of a getaway destination, a faraway sea resort, it fits perfectly with the history of the boulevard where rich Greater Lille industrial families used to compete in extravagance. The transformation of the Villa Maillard is in tune with the spirit of the time marked by the construction of qualitative and fanciful houses.
Know-how, rethink and develop. The careful renovation pays great attention to architectural details such as the stud work where the timber framing is filled with sloping bricks. The roof's tangled volumes have been recreated as they were originally with a traditional frame which required great craftsmanship. The condition of the frame making it impossible to raise the structure, artisans had to redesign the volumes and imagine their assembly from the ground up.
The house's silhouette is enhanced by a pre-weathered brownish red zinc lining perfectly adapting to the shape of the frame and covering the house all the way down to the ground floor. The colours renew with the historical building's chromatic tones and contrast with the newly built extensions. Those light wood framed extensions are built where the old bow windows used to be, as if branches naturally sprang out of the frame. The plant-inspired envelope hosts a tree-house style loggia on the first floor.
Subject to image requirements at the town entrance, this program offers its residents an outstanding living environment in a somewhat gentrified neighbourhood. The housing units are bright with unconventional volumes, the common portions are neatly designed and the private gardens match the expectations of one of France's greatest tree-lined avenues.
“I had forgotten how massive and solid it was. You would have thought it was made of stone rather than wood, yet it looked alive. The outer walls were covered with a miniature moss and lichen forest. On the north side was an opening big enough for two children to walk in hand in hand and I had Eli walk through it. The inner walls were charred by ages-old log fires, blackened, covered with lichen and badly time-worn, they produced a slight scent of smoke so old that there was no one still alive to remember the flames.” Jean Hegland, Dans la forêt, Gallmeister, 2018, p. 157.
Ginkgo resistance. Beyond its architecture, another great feature of the Villa Maillard lies in its park planted with remarkable specimens and especially a ginkgo biloba tree. Those trees are listed as part of the local heritage while the house is not and have therefore protected it from more ambitious real estate projects which would have required to cut them down. As a tribute to this natural heritage, the extensions are lined with stylish ginkgo leaves.