7 houses

Villejuif, Paris / France / 2011

15
15 Love 1,942 Visits Published
Situated less than 2 kilometres from Paris, set back from a heavily travelled five-lane road, the building complex is located at the end of a cul-de-sac.  The surroundings, composed of small buildings, houses and workshops, are more evocative of village calm than the agitation of the neighbouring suburbs.   The architects have had to cope with contradictory objectives with, on one hand the specific character of the housing called for by its situation and, on the other hand, the considerable density of population made necessary by the ecological requirements of the local economy.  A great supporter of architecture, the developer largely defended their choices despite the fact that the financial conundrum seemed rather to dictate the construction of a block of flats (an apartment building).   The overall building plan appears simple: two parallel bars of different widths on either side of a central alleyway garden six metres wide.  Like part of a medina, the external form of the plots does not allow us to decipher the layout of the building.  To ensure the privacy of each unit, the houses are juxtaposed, not atop one another and not overlapping.  Laid out in the form of a cross, the main section 12 metres wide consists of four adjoining houses.  Simpler in form and only 9 metres in width, the second building is made up of three houses in a row, each lying between the courtyard and a private garden.  The organisation of the volumes, the open spaces and the indentations ensure long diagonal views between residents in contrast with the frontal relationships that one might have feared in such situations.   The houses are developed vertically (3 and 4 bedroom units) with bedrooms on the ground floor, for the first four of them, raised above the passage and with terraces opening out onto the central alleyway.  The double-height living spaces are on the first floor directly in relation to a series of terraces ending in a habitable roof-top, largely open to the surrounding environment and where worktops with sinks have been installed for use.   Out of view under the buildings, the basement houses car parking and the cellars, leaving a plain earthed area which could be made into gardens for three of the houses.   Though the facades do not have many windows this is due to the fact that the light comes principally from above. Invisible from the bottom or from straight opposite, huge light boxes illuminate the double-height of the first-floor living spaces from directly above, without taking away from their desired intimacy. The contrast between interior and exterior is striking.  Just as in a medina, the austerity of the exteriors does not give a hint of the generosity of the natural lighting of the houses or of the habitability of the roof-top.   The use of simple and economical materials allowed for very generous spaces inside and outside for a low budget.   The skilful quality of the smooth extra-white wall surfaces reinforces the overall Mediterranean atmosphere.
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    Situated less than 2 kilometres from Paris, set back from a heavily travelled five-lane road, the building complex is located at the end of a cul-de-sac.  The surroundings, composed of small buildings, houses and workshops, are more evocative of village calm than the agitation of the neighbouring suburbs.   The architects have had to cope with contradictory objectives with, on one hand the specific character of the housing called for by its situation and, on the other hand, the considerable...

    Project details
    • Year 2011
    • Work finished in 2011
    • Client SADEV 94
    • Contractor DEMATHIEU & BARD
    • Cost 1,447,000
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Multi-family residence
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