Reflection on urban density in Paris

Location : 11th arrondissement, Paris, France
Year : 2015
Client : CAUE Paris
Surface : /
Budget : /
Status : Competition / Project ''Coup de Coeur''
Team : Yann-Kevin Creff, Jeremy Germe, Chloé Thomazo

If the challenge of the energy transition is a real emergency, the long temporality of urbanism calls an humble and prospective approach. Starting from this observation, we have worked to build our project in close collaboration with the existing city while offering innovative uses of the urban space. Rather than creating new housing in one of the most dense neighborhood of Paris (over 300 dwellings per hectare!), we tried to enhance the already-there, in continuity with the current practices of the inhabitants. To do this, we worked on the atmosphere and possible uses of the spaces that make the specificity and the « genius loci » of this buildings : the courtyards. Far from seeking to retreat to the closed universe of the courtyards, the integration of new economies with a strong relationship with the city and its inhabitants.

The appearance of the facade is a vector of urban quality but the roofs represent a real potential for new uses. We have chosen to raise the roof level of several buildings to turn them into sustainable technology supports. The extension of the existing attics allows the integration of new technical equipment and anticipate the future needs of the inhabitants : photovoltaic panels, solar panels, rainwater reservoirs ... The technological solutions of energy transition are changing : these spaces will allow their integration in respect of the architecture of the parisian rooftops.

Beyond the morphological aspects, we integrated the project into a logic of exchange and opening on the sustainable city. This new dialogue between the building and its neighborhood goes through the implementation of activities related to the sharing economy and circular economy. We offer to create complementray servives for the inhabitants of the city block and the parisiancs :

- A cyclist shop offers a range of services to encourage cycling in the city. Both seller and repairer, it allows the inhabitants of the buildings to store their bikes, scooters and strollers while being able to repair them.

- A recycling center allows residents to exchange their used but valuable objects. It incorporates a selective sorting local, allowing the inhabitants to go beyond the current requirements in terms of waste sorting. Organic waste can then be composted and used for private and community gardens.

- A laundromat, designed as a place of sociability, is a shared equipment enabling owners to combine domestic work and social ties in the immediate surroundings of their apartments.

This transformation of technical spaces into true urban services frees the courtyards of multiple premices accumulated over the years. The mutualisation of this spaces offer a new potential for these common areas.

Rather than mutualizing the courtyards in contradiction with the urban context, we decided to highlight the specificities of each courtyards in order to diversify their atmospheres while preserving the privacy of the residents. The work on materials, furniture and floor treatments allows the creation of three complementary atmospheres :

- The vegetation courtyard : actually paved, we propose to extend the existing garden to unify the atmosphere of the plot. New trees will be planted to control the heat gain and to promote biodiversity. The separation wall will be perforated to communicate with the mineral courtyard.

- Mineral courtyard : its central position allows the organization of collective events (inhabitants meetings, workshops, children's games). The soil will be partially covered with gravel to facilitate the infiltration of rainwater.

- The reflections courtyard : this courtyard is deeper and darker than the other two, it is covered with a fine glass canopy and metal which reflects and intensifies the sun's rays. Inspired by the glass roof of the Parisian workshops, it protects the court from bad weather and offers a mixity of use in any season.

This variety of outdoor spaces adds value to the indoor atmosphere of each apartments. In order to get the most of it, we propose to create new openings in the blank facade of the buildings. Thanks to these new openings the apartments are in a double or triple aspect, enhancing the light inputs and the confort of the transformed flats.

The architectural approach to energy transition is too often limited to a succession of technical answers with no relation to the lived reality. Starting from the existing situation, its features and its uses, we believe that a building can only be sustainable if it creates the desire to live in it and to take care of it. In order to make the innovations of today the heritage of tomorrow.


12 Rue des Cinq Diamants 75013 Paris France
+33 (0) 7 88 28 97 09