Located in the 13th arrondissement of southeast Paris, the Edison Lite co-housing project by Manuelle Gautrand translates principles of permaculture into built form. With a total surface area of 2067 m2, the project incorporates 21 residential units and two ground-floor commercial spaces alongside shared community and garden spaces for residents.
The project is the result of an urban renewal competition from the City of Paris that sought applications for the redevelopment of 22 sites across the city. The winners of the competition were permitted to rent or purchase their chosen site and collectively participate with the other winners on a larger scale urban project proposing to rethink and reshape the way Parisians inhabit their city.
The winning Edison Lite proposal is based on three core principles being: made to measure housing units offering future residents agency to participate in the design process, an extra 20% of surface area conceived as shared space to provide residents access to facilities and functions that would otherwise not be available, and finally, a landscape of living scaffolding based on planter boxes that welcomes new residents.
Further to this, the roof level features a 150 m2 urban farm and community vegetable plot that allows residents to grow their food, encouraging a culture of edible permaculture as well as collective participation in a shared outcome.
Acting as a type of bark around the concrete façade posts and inner concrete core, timber the primary façade material with timber-framed spandrel panels are spaced at 1.2-metre intervals between the façade posts, alternating in concrete to distribute the loads. Façade posts are used for the distribution of planter watering and drainage systems and are enclosed in thermally modified timber. External windows including French doors opening onto terraces are stained in solid pine.
In total, the façade planters hold 310 passionflower plants as part of a collective garden of over 6,0000 plants that result in a living biosphere. Each planter comes with an automatic water system that ensures year-round moisture and optimal growing conditions.
By enveloping the natural world around construction and incorporating soil and vegetation as organic building materials, Edison Lite presents a new narrative for a new model of housing, bringing concepts of permaculture and garden areas typical of the suburban house to the centre of Paris.