PARIS – Most Parisian suburbs are far from exciting or inspiring, and the urban tissue, consisting interchangeably of modernist slab and tower estates or tracts of small-scale family housing, confirms this impression. The small municipality of Ris-Orangis on the south eastern edge of the vast agglomeration decided to shake things up and appointed Maison Edouard François to plan out a new neighbourhood, of which the first tower block has recently been completed.
‘We needed to add a new, more exciting kind of urbanism next to a nondescript 1970s development, but we had limited budget,’ explains the firm’s founder Edouard François. ‘We decided to use the parking garage as a podium for the building to save costs, but also give the building a strong, almost industrial materiality which we continue with the cladding of the tower.’
The large volume, the size of which reflects the large-scale housing estate nearby, is covered in orange terracotta tiles, giving the building an unexpected texture, along with a bright orange colour. Inside, the building accommodates 60 dwellings, ranging from small, one-bedroom apartments to large maisonettes at the top. True to the architect’s idiosyncratic style, the grounds are protected by a decorative fence, similar to that of a nearby chateau.
The Orange of Ris therefore responds – and provides – new cues to future development overseen by the office, which François describes as ‘only material’. ‘My style is evolving all the time because I engage with context in unique ways and I’m always searching for a balance between context, materiality and use,’ he concludes.