Top 10 Social Housing Blocks

Low-cost housing hasn't received much attention from architecture buffs. Primarily intended to remedy housing inequality by offering an affordable option in dense urban areas, the result tends to be utilitarian, concrete residential blocks relegated to undesirable areas of cities. With a new trend towards densifying city centres, these sites are finding themselves within highly desired locations in cities and today's architects are giving these structures as much design detail as luxury apartments. Who wouldn't want to move into one of these buildings?

A Change of Skin by Atelier du Pont

Previously ignoring the humans which would inhabit it, this Parisian residential block was a stark, concrete fortress in the 1970s. In 2013, Atelier du Pont encouraged residents to access the outdoors with balconies suspended from the roof to minimize structural impacts. Attached to the original building, a facade of sliding screen panels adds a dynamic exterior skin.

Herzberg Housing Development by feld72 & AllesWirdGut

A total of 121 housing units including apartments and townhouses are collaged into a single building coated with a green gradient colour scheme. The stepped roof is lined with terraces and the structure wraps a landscaped central courtyard, creating a buffer between Vienna's residential west side and retail east side.

Housing Hatert by 24H Architecture

Twelve stories of ribbon-like balconies wrap an internal wood structure in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The perforated aluminium bands allow daylight to enter the 72 apartments while evoking the imagery of white rose petals.

Collective Housing Boréal by TETRARC

Situated within a disadvantaged area of Nantes, France, a five-storey structure with 39 units was transformed with vibrant colours and green spaces. Every home acquired floor to ceiling windows with personal greenhouses to grow a garden. A wooden installation set high on posts acts as a pedestrian passageway between public and private spaces.

Social Housing by Vous Êtes Ici Architectes

Set within Quartier Latin, a central district in Paris, a new block clad with untreated spruce and bold orange-framed windows has emerged. The architects elegantly bridged two structures on either side of the site around a safe, communal playground.

242 Social Housing Units in Salburúa by ACXT Architects

A U-shaped building culminating in a 21-storey tower contains 242 affordable dwellings. Bedrooms face outward, overlooking a central garden. Every facade including the base's roof was surfaced in red to ensure residents within the tower overlooked a consistent exterior.

Ilot Bois Soleil by TRANSFORM + 109 architect(e)s

In Toulouse, France, a housing block is sheathed with a wooden screen to create privacy and visual interest for residents. Elevated walkways, balconies and gardens gives multiple settings to interact and build a sense of community. Abundant amounts of bicycle parking with screen vehicular parking and access to public transportation connects the site with the city.

Basket Apartments by OFIS Arhitekti

Overlooking Paris's Parc de la Villette, stacked and shifted cubes house 200 students within identical footprints around common areas. Balconies offer views to the street and Eiffel Tower in the distance. The rsulting dynamic facade adds visual interest while sustainable benefits include cross-ventilating via balconies, rainwater harvesting to water outdoor green areas, rooftop photovoltaics generate power and thick insulation minimize energy usage.

Cardinet-Quintessence by Périphériques Architects

Comprised of 97 private housing units and 20 social units, the 7315-sq-m building produces 120 NW of energy per year thanks to a crown design covered with rooftop photovoltaic panels. A prismatic aluminum skin adds thermal protection while a central void offers views to a courtyard below.

Rear Window by Gelin-Lafon

Slowly converting the 1960s housing blocks into contemporary housing solutions, Paris continues to break down the stigma of these structures. An enamelled ceramic skin and mosaic of balconies overlook a shared landscaped courtyard.

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