The degree of appropriation of a place depends on its general architectural quality, but also lays in the diversity of the exchanges it enables, by fuelling complex and evolutionary spatial practices. We see the programme as defining the client’s functional objectives, but also as the starting point of an amplification process. Projects implementing a programmatic diversity within a single building facilitate the creation of new synergies, inventing the story of each place, imagining the everyday life of each user, stimulating the inhabitants’ aspirations. Through this process of assimilation and then increased restitution, we seek the invisible, all that appears without being named, and try to create richer architectural and social situations.
The operation completed in Porte des Lilas, Paris 20th arr., consists of a migrant workers’ hostel and a young workers’ hostel. These two different functionalities were presented distinctly and had a priori no reason to be joint. However, the two hostels had similar spatial needs: media library, sports hall, collective kitchen… Our will to rethink the link between the place and its inhabitants led us to cluster all common spaces on a single level, creating a belvedere upon the Porte de Lilas. This third level forms a connection platform offering common spaces and services. This shared area crosses the uses and favours encounters. It enables the emergence of a social space, a public setting within the building itself. The inhabitants turn into citizens of a small world irrigated by the flow of vertical circulations among which the stairs perform a major social function, through their large dimensions and natural lighting.
Hence, we have tried to favour the interactions between an institutional prescription and an alternative use of the place. Here, the third level works as an interval between the private personal space (the room) and the public space (the street). It comes under both the individual and the collective space. We are particularly interested in this level for it represents an interface zone between various programmes, in the same way as an ecological ecotone. The characteristics of two environments all at once separate and united are merged and balanced in this transition zone, giving birth to a new emulation. Finding each project’s ecotone requires to define the physical, psychic and institutional space to receive diversity, as an edge enabling exchanges and restoring the inhabitants a certain freedom in the use of their building.
The Rosalind-Franklin school in Ivry-sur-Seine was designed as a system, interacting with its users through the emergence of an additional programme. The facility is only two-storey height and widely spread on its plot. The number of programmes implanted on the lower level makes it a ground-devouring building, and therefore generates a lot of roof surface, originally deprived of any function. We chose to value this whole forsaken expanse. The school’s volumes are organised as different overlapped layers. Linked by a cable system meant for climbing vegetation and covered by 35 centimetres of earth, the 2500 square metres of roof surface turn into a plateau landscape. This space is disposable for the pupils and for the purpose of educational experiences. It is accessible and protected. It results from a prospective interpretation of the school programme and of the site contingencies, and becomes an integral part of the project.
Thanks to this approach, we wish to enable a certain permissiveness in order to inject flexibility in the use of the buildings, and to stimulate the appropriation by the users. Thus, we try to offer autonomy to the users by making it possible for everyone to find its own path through the building. Implementing an evolutionary and adaptable place brings a sense of urbanity within the building itself, and offers a strong potential in terms of social links: this is the starting point of unprecedented possibilities.
Arcueil and Harbonnières
This interface zone lays into different architectural scales, and into different intimacy degrees going from collective to domestic. The project of fifty five social accession apartments completed in Arcueil offers to compensate the very strict standards of the French social housing by including an additional space. We inserted an angle loggia between the kitchen and the living-room. The loggia creates an open interval-space and amplifies the total surface of the living areas. Moreover, this space in between the outside and the inside establishes a more intimate relation between the inhabitant and the neighbourhood.
When designing a centre for physically disabled adults, we particularly worked on the circulations, a fundamental space to these users for whom the least move can represent a whole day challenge. In order to avoid the usual scheme of a dark corridor leading to rooms on both of its sides, the plan offers a specific path throughout the building. The rooms overlook a park in a radial organisation providing a very individual relation to the landscape. On the inside, the very bright common circulations encircle a patio. Thus, they define an additional exterior space which becomes a socialisation area shared by all residents, at the heart of the project. As a forest edge, these circulations link the outside and the inside world through visual and physical connections, punctually expanded in order to create crossing living spaces, between the park and the patio.
This shared educational programme aims to group various scientific academic institutions (among which Polytechnique, AgroParis Tech, l’Ecole des Mines…) into a single facility. We saw in this programme the opportunity to rethink space as a linkage between different fields, enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration. The building includes traditional classrooms facing the preexisting school, and open spaces on the opposite façade, opening onto the park. Linking formal and informal spaces, the circulations punctually expand, creating flexible exchange areas. As hive cells, a series of large staggered pattern stairwells create views on the inferior and superior levels, allowing to quickly grasp the whole building’s organisation. This three-dimensional system opens up the spatial occupation possibilities of these new educational areas through flexible circulations. A twin stairs scheme creates an abundance of interior situations (bleachers, small size amphitheatres) and an exterior series of belvederes overlooking the park, in an intense relation to the landscape. These stairs go vertically through the whole façade and materialise the free ascension from the park to the green roof. The façade turns into a mobility support.