PARIS – Hot on the heels of a new mixed development in the outlying Marly-le-Roi suburb, Paris practice Ameller, Dubois et Associés has completed a social housing commission closer to home in the fifteenth arrondissement of the city. Named in honour of the philanthropic department-store mogul Aristide Boucicaut (1810-1867), the complex offers 86 units for medium- to low-income residents and a home for autistic workers.
The project integrates three main rises onto a common base. Each consists of stacked modules cast in polished, white concrete and punctured rhythmically along the sides with vertical, steel-framed strip windows. The modules are alternately cantilevered and superposed to form loggias and balconies. Providing a warm counterpart to the concrete is the use of russet wood, which lines the inner faces of loggias, the outer walls of attic storeys and intermediate volumes between the towers. Vegetated roofs form garden terraces and resemble the flanking courtyard. The voids left between the towers open outside views to the interior of the block and the historic backdrop beyond, reflecting the urban planners’ intention to return the otherwise dense, urban area to its suburban heritage. Of course, when it comes to the view afforded to the residents, no one is left wanting. Every orientation receives ample light and a desirable overlook – with verdant landscapes in the foreground and the city extending out.
Such uniform composition and accommodation in this case creates a democratic environment not just in terms of class, but of ability. The residential singularity of the site makes its dual functions indistinct to the casual passer-by: it is not an apartment complex and a disabled institute, but simply a place to live.