TOULOUSE – TRANSFORM and 109 architect(e)s recently completed Ilot Bois Soleil in Toulouse, France.
The design team wanted ‘to bring to collective housing some qualities of the individual dwelling’.
This was achieved using two strategies: blurring the lines between units and creating different levels for social interaction.
Different levels were introduced throughout the project in a series of outdoor spaces – elevated walkways, ground-level gardens and balconies. The levels create many opportunities for residents to meet and help to build a sense of community. The scale of the buildings and their relation to each other and the communal space is responsive to the human scale and prevent the garden areas from being dwarfed by the buildings.
The units have a rational arrangement and structure but the façade is less ordered. It consists of pink and green painted fields behind screens of wooden slats which add an element of irregularity to the scheme. This designed randomness is enhanced by off-kilter steel columns supporting the raised platform. Quirky elements like these add visual interest to the composition and gives the impression that the development is personalised.
Environmental design strategies are a significant aspect of the project. All the units have a double orientation – open façades on the south and closed façades on the north – to take advantage of solar gains. Mobility and transport considerations are also taken into account. The project is linked to a nearby subway with a pedestrian path. There is also plenty of bicycle parking, while vehicular parking is less available and will eventually be covered with a vegetated screen, presumably to encourage residents to cycle and discourage them from driving. Water is heated using solar energy and photovoltaic panels are used to supplement the building’s energy consumption. Constructing the building with a wooden structure using a platform frame system saved costs and minimised the embodied energy of the scheme.
Photos courtesy of Philippe Ruault