PARIS – A sustainable development is uprooting the outskirts of Paris for a new landscape. Cofounders of the architectural collective Plan.01, Atelier Du Pont and Jean Bocabeille Architecte have again joined forces to lend their unique character to a mixed-use block in the novel eco-district of Clichy-Batignolles. The thoughtful design brings together social and private housing, retail units and a nursing home and religious centre.
A mountain top silhouette appears on the horizon. The piton-shaped private housing marks the boldest example of the architects’ complex play with scale and volume. Introduced to ensure unrestricted vistas for all inhabitants of the buildings, the consequent geometrical quality of the diversely-designed entities becomes their unifying feature. The notion of cohesion is further underlined by varied hues of white and red, suggesting connection instead of repetition. Contrasting with the cool metal facades are the warm interiors, with floor-to-ceiling windows which radiate daylight across wooden floors.
Even though the buildings are seperate from each other, they overlap, sticking together while facing one another. A sense of integrity is intended. Unlike many other projects, the social and private housing units experienced equal treatment in the development; the 46 social units are each identical in size to the 86 private flats. In between the two sits the nursing home, which is again, it seems, a well executed act of inclusion. With this amount of thought given to social implications, maybe even the religious centre, which is located underneath the private dwellings, will not be viewed by residents as an antagonism.
When looking at the grand scheme of things, the complex is only one element within the redevelopment in the 17th arrondissement in the northwest of Paris. A total of 50 hectares of land between Porte Maillot and Châtelet les Halles is being turned into a modern sustainable district with 3400 new residential units, offices and leisure facilities. The existing Parc Martin Luther King will be extended to form a new pair of green lungs, covering an expanse of 10 hectares. Without question, this is a different Paris than that of the belle epoque, and the district’s carbon neutral agenda and the inclusion of the city’s first pneumatic waste collection system demonstrate the historic city has arrived in the future. And, to add another comforting thought, Renzo Piano, the architect of the Centre Georges Pompidou, has designed the park-facing Paris Courthouse which is due to open in 2017.