Occupying three sides of a large plot on the outskirts of the town of Sceaux, south of Paris, the building is a hybrid, multi-faceted object. The passer-by approaching the development along Rue Houdan will not see any fundamental difference to the other apartment buildings lining this radial road leading to the town centre. Standing back, he will doubtless be surprised by the top floors, which appear to be occupied by a wild, unrestrained roof-top extension. Completing his circumnavigation, he will discover a long frontage comprising a succession of different types of construction, monolith, apartment building and private house, united by a long plinth, playing on solid masses and recesses and complementarity of scale. The demonstrative appearance of the architecture satisfies an imperative requirement of the town council, which was only prepared to sell its land to a private developer on condition that it would feature outstanding architecture. The site, at the intersection of a major access route to the town centre and the Green Meridian - a linear park built in 2000 on the line of the Paris Meridian, which crosses France from north to south and borders the plot on its western boundary - called for high occupancy. The interplay of form is at its maximum at the intersection of the two major lines of communication, and particularly visible as it stands opposite a large unoccupied plot. The building assumes its role as a "landmark of the urban landscape". The free volumes disposed on the roof evoke, through their colors and shapes, the weathering steel sculptures of Richard Serra. A monumental contemporary work, installed on the plinth of a building designed to be more neutral, in a town that is unaccustomed to grand architectural gestures: the development generated much discussion at public meetings organized by the town council. The manifold forms accompany manifold typologies: There are twenty-seven types of apartment and a proportion of the housing is reserved for social landlords. A restaurant is to be established at street level on Rue Houdan. More than a building, the development can be seen as a small-scale district. It has its square around a cedar that had to be retained, its avenue - a planted walkway that extends far into the plot and serves some of the entrances to the building and the town house located at the end of the site. The area devoted to the development may ultimately seem low considering the number of dwellings built which puts it in the category of dense housing developments, in a market in which the reference remains the private house. The diversity and articulation of circulations contribute to acceptance of the density by a population that is petrified by the very word. Indeed, a proportion of the occupants come from suburban houses, finally convinced that a different lifestyle is possible in towns.
Place: rue Gaston Lévy à Sceaux, France Date: 2011 Client: Bouygues immobilier / Sceaux Habitat
Partners: Havim (developer) SLG paysage
Surface: 4 700 m2