In this spectacular and strategic location, we have endeavoured to design a building that is both functional and capable of engaging with its vibrant environment. The residence is located in the heart of Enova, an up-and-coming and innovative district, and it was important to us that the building should reflect this sense of ambition. It also looks onto a major public space: the future elevated railway and Innopôle station. On the approach to the diagonal facade, the building therefore had to have the architectural quality of a statement building with maximum visibility.
Several principles have guided our thinking in order to present a qualitative and ambitious project, in keeping with this exceptional environment. First of all, we split the building into two distinct halves to separate the university residence from the one for young professionals. Functionally, the foyer as an extension of the forecourt is shared. Each entity then has a vertical core that distributes the residences separately. Continuing in this vein of dividing the space, we worked with the geometry of the plot to develop residences of different heights, breaking up an otherwise monotonous outline.
To highlight the multiplicity of perceptions, it seemed interesting to differentiate the base heights for each part of the building. On the student residence side, the base consists of a single parking level while the “joint” with the body of the building is on two storeys. On the young professionals’ side, the base is made up of the double height of the shops and the main body is only developed on three levels. This voluntary imbalance amuses the eye, loses its bearings and makes the architectural vocabulary lighter and less repetitive. Continuing in this fashion, while the systematic stacking of flats was a functional (ducts) and financial (structure) imperative, it did not necessarily mean that the windows had to be stacked, too. So, we played with the level of offset the plans allowed us to shift the windows from one level to another. Even more strikingly, we surrounded them in elegant lacquered perforated sheet metal with a protruding geometry. The four sides of these frames have different depths and generate a variety of shadows, creating a quirky and ever-changing facade. The sun and shadows play with the architecture and surprise us, alignments disappear, shadows amuse the eye and drape the windows in fine, precious lace.
Residence 172 is a product of its time and its environment, with a qualitative architectural vocabulary. It is also a building to be lived in and shared. The idea was to design a building that would appeal without impressing, that would simply make people want to live in it.