SAINTES – The French social housing scene is booming. With the government demanding that at least 20 per cent of every city is offered as social housing, many new developments are being built. The intentions are noble and important in Bordeaux, where More Architects – in collaboration with Poggi Architecture – created three clusters of white stacked boxes, creating around 30 inhabitable units.
Trying to break with the ‘shoebox-like’ predeterminations from the 1960s and 1990s, the units have no main façade; neither front nor back and thus multiple orientations instead of endless replication.
The development’s concept is designed to be paired with unobstructed views and void spaces but it seems like the setting is less hospitable than desired. The main attribute and name-giving feature of the buildings are the clouds – external spaces integrated on the inside. Grid-like metal panels keep the cantilevered areas completely separate from the outside and the neighbours’ view while letting air and light pass through. They seem lofty and cage-like at the same time.
As the housing problem cried for more than one uniform solution, only the long-term use will show which projects can stand the test of time and really mirror the utopian ideals that they have in common.