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Pop-Up Building
Sergio Grazia

Pop-Up Building - 18 social housing units, nursery and underground parking

WRA - Wild Rabbits Architecture as Architects

Aubervilliers is a sweet and messy suburb located in the north of Paris. The Charles Tillon street looks like the messiest street in town. But an attentive look allows to realize that the amazing buildings along the East side called the "blue roofs" (or the Smurfs), articulates effectively this contrasted site composed of huge towers, small housing and a cemetery.


The Smurfs were designed by the firm Fiumani & Jacquemot architects in the 80’s, but the project will remain unfinished. The Pop-Up Building is constructed in the empty central part of that triangle shaped and coloured composition.


The Wild Rabbits Architects choose to complete the work using their own tools to reinterpret the originals goals of the blue roof’s designers. They extend the base of the building and design large vertical walls as a reference to the towers of the district. Then they develop in their own way a scale gradation in relation with the pavilions and the steles of the nearby cemetery. Blue is integrated by the reflections of the sky in the cladding.


Finally, they compose a face for the "blue roofs". A pop-up construction that could have sprung from a book, folds of giant papers, juxtaposition of large windows entirely open to the south.


Hard to find out, the seven-storey building is actually built in wood.


The Pop-Up Building demonstrates the ability of wooden construction to put itself at the service of an agile and desirable architecture.

A 7 floors wooden structure


The building has six levels of wooden structure on a concrete basement and ground floor. It was a technical and regulatory challenge for this competition won in 2011. (At the time, the higher wooden housing building in France raised at 5 floors.)


Regarding French rules, the building is classified in 3rd family with all the consequences to safety and fire-prevention regulations involved.


The load-bearing facades and walls consist in CLT (cross-laminated timber) panels. The non-load-bearing facades are made in wood frame.


The floors – all in CLT panels - form a rigid diaphragm embedded to CLT-walls and the central concrete core formed by the stairwell and the elevator.


Architects and engineers chose to use the sarking system – a technique usually used in roofing - on the facade insulation. This innovative method enables to optimize the prefabrication of the walls and reduce the perforations of the rain screen.


The coating is mainly clear to minimize overheating. The whole construction - except core - is built in dry process, including screeds.

Environmental approach

The major ambition of the project carried out by the OPH of Aubervilliers concerns the exemplarity of this wood construction, its height, its formal freedom, the desirability of the housing.


Every apartment offers a double or triple orientation. The living-room are mostly facing south, with skillfully framed views (despite the) between cemetery and decrepit towers.

The building shares the heat production with the adjoining social housings. Moreover, the production of solar hot water is pooled, to limit the risks of overheating and improve its efficiency.

This story is available in multiple languages
Project Credits
structural engineering, construction site supervision
fluid engineering
wood engineering
Product Spec Sheet

ManufacturersKLH / LIGNATEC (CLT)
Product Spec Sheet
by Carea
South Yarra Residence 02
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