Protected by a small garden lost amongst the urban architecture on the outskirts of the French capital, Nuages – which translates as ‘clouds’ – is an eight-storey residential project that was inspired by its environment. Parisian firm XTU Architects has preserved the reinforced-concrete structure of a former nursing school, turning the building into a complex of 115 units with space left over for childcare services on the ground floor. A range of apartment sizes are available – from 25-sq-m studios to 170-sq-m duplex suites – although some are spatially hindered by the deep, narrow floor plans remnant of the building’s former use.

In order to counteract the size limitation, the architect increased the floor area of the units by extruding cantilevered ‘boxes’ from the original façade – some of which reach up to 6 m. Not only does this improve the usable interior space but it further enhances the firm’s desire for the project to capitalise on the immersive experience to be gained from the surrounding vegetation. ‘We had the possibility to increase the living area of the project,’ says the architect, ‘but the only option was to add extensions onto the front of the building. With these “boxes”, we also had the opportunity to propose projected spaces in the trees and the terraces.’

Living closer to the clouds optimises natural daylight. It also inspired the printed, silk-screen pattern on the windows which blurs the perception of a glass barrier between the interior and the outside while still preserving residents’ privacy. The white dots circle the glazed frames leaving an elliptical opening that showcases the tall trees and the natural environment visible from the apartments, creating a distorted reality of touchable sky.

Site Plan

Plan – Level 2

Plan – Level 3

Cross Section
Location 72A Rue de la Colonie, Paris, France