NANTES – Nantes is an active advocate for combining urban development with sustainability; a quality which was recognised in 2013 when it was awarded the European Green Capital Award in recognition of the city’s continued commitment to sustainable living. Parisian architect Hamonic+Masson & Associés further advocates the premise with the New’R building – a complex of 156 residential units, as well as offices, commercial outlets and underground parking – which promotes a higher quality of life by unifying the city and its inhabitants with the built environment.
Completed in January for real-estate developer Kaufman & Broad, the design of the New’R building is all about bringing people together to create a community. A simple proposition, perhaps, but in practise not quite so easy: how do you inspire a young population – approximately 45 percent of which is under 29 years of age – to respond? This diverse demographic inspired a diverse proposition of 40 different typologies – ranging from single-occupancy studios to four-bedroom apartments and duplexes – ensuring that there is something to suit the needs of any potential resident.
Sculpted terraces are distributed throughout the 19-storey building to promote a communal lifestyle and encourage the building’s inhabitants to get to know one another through sharing common interests. Additionally, the architect focussed on the connection between the building, its users and the city below. ‘The different scales introduce a richness and intricacy, turning the building into a narrative with a genuine identity,’ says founding partner Jean-Christophe Masson.
‘The collective spaces are distributed at different levels to play with the idea of movement, background and municipality. The terraces allow the inhabitants to understand the urban fabric of the city below, while the retail, offices and restaurant at ground level provide a link to the street.’
The architect has established a development that goes out of its way to create connections between the building and the city; and making neighbours into friends. The undulating balconies extend amorphously from the white rigidity of the high-rise apartments as an open gesture towards the city and a warm embrace to the community.
‘By offering generous exterior and shared spaces, we imagine large-scale buildings where the individual and the collective intertwine,’ Masson concludes. ‘It creates a community within the building. This is important for quality of life and for creating ethical, modern and democratic architecture where the residents are offered a sense of belonging and identity.’