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Zac Bossut, Pontoise, France
Project Year
Social Housing
©Fred Delangle

Atypical constraints, atypical solutions and ingenious ideas


The initial project faced serious challenges in terms of cost and construction deadlines. 

The collective Plan01 (Jean Bocabeille Architecte, Atelier du Pont, Ignacio Prego Architectures, Koz, and Philéas) , which consists of 5 architecture firms, decided to respond in chorus to the question, “How do you bring architectural quality and diversity to a large-scale building within a tight deadline and at a construction cost of 1,450€ /m2 (of habitable surface), parking included?”


Answers : 

- collective terraces instead of individual balconies, 

- underground parking that was nevertheless open-air and surrounded by greenery, 

- a building width that corresponded to the parking area’s structural frame (15 meters), 

- a sculpting of volumes that resulted in different heights; this limited the number of elevators and guaranteed that all the housing units would run across the whole floor or at least face more than one direction, 

- interior insulation using a coefficient of an optimal building shape and a thermic concrete manufactured on site.


What was the most challenging part in building this project ?


Respecting the deadlines, of course the construction costs, as well as respecting the principle of fairness for the 360 homes of police officers who will live there. So, fairness in the treatment of the buildings, the apartments, the use of the residences, and in terms of the site itself. The corollary of this fairness was embodied in the opportunity to create collective usages. 


How did you overcome these problems ?


By working on the 5th façade, meaning the buildings’ rooftop terraces. They were arranged to host the outdoor common spaces, and are connoted by their color: “red athletics” (sports and games), “blue-pool” (relaxation, children’s play areas) and “green-garden” (a vegetable garden and a ping-pong area). Residents are thus able to inhabit their roofs, and they can do so together.


Tell me about the facade design. How did you come up with this idea? Why?


The 5 firms that make up the collective PLAN01 worked in conjunction with one another but separately on different portions of the buildings that we had split up between us according to an overall framework. Thus, each portion has its own characteristics in terms of the façade and the colors, for example. They reveal the character of each individual firm, but because this was done in workshop format, the whole remains cohesive. The project provides a diversity of architectural expression that is usually created only over time when you build an entire city.  


What was the most challenging part in designing these rooftop facilities ?


We designed the terraces to enable the families to begin to appropriate the spaces. The theme of the terraces is provided by the specific color and ambience of each one, but it will be the residents who will then determine and shape its actual usage. 

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