UNIC

MAD Reveals the First Project to be constructed in Europe

MAD Architects as Architects

‘UNIC,’ MAD Architects’ first built project in Europe, is nearing completion. Led by Ma Yansong, MAD was awarded the project in 2012 through an international design competition in collaboration with local French firm Biecher Architectes. Located in Paris’ 17th arrondissement, Clichy-Batignolles is a newly developing area of the city. ‘UNIC’ emerges as part of the mixed-use masterplan envisioned adjacent to the Martin Luther King Park – a 10-hectare green space. Unlike the static Haussmann apartment blocks that define Paris, MAD’s project is characterised by its interaction with nature in the urban environment. Its undulating floor plates form a series of terraces, creating dynamic spaces within and expansive gardens and balconies on the exterior. Each asymmetrical level slightly tapers as the building ascends, with the upper floors boasting panoramic views of the surrounding city and the Eiffel Tower.

 

Clichy-Batignolles provides the opportunity for French and international architecture firms to collaborate and create a new part of Paris. The neighbourhood re-activation plan includes construction of new residential buildings, as well as other community resources. The area was divided into nine plots which were each assigned to a group comprised of architecture companies and developers. After winning the competition, these groups met regularly to discuss each team’s project within the bigger scheme of the neighbourhood. They particularly participated in a series of workshops to explore topics from the macro-scale urban plans to micro-scale details, such as sustainable community development, resource sharing, energy management, and population demographics. MAD’s design was the result of these workshops with the developers, architects and the Clichy-Batignolles inhabitants. In addition to which, the residential plot for ‘UNIC’ includes both private housing and affordable housing, thus enriching the dynamics of the neighbourhood.

 

Situated in this evolving socio-economic boundary, ‘UNIC’ reinterprets the conventional residential typology. The design is characterised by sinuous floor plates, vertically extending the neighbouring green park. By combining residential density with raised gardens, the project is an upwards-growing organic arrangement, one that blurs the boundary between architecture and nature. Sharing the same podium with the affordable housing, its communal programming is further realised with the addition of the kindergarten, retail spaces, and other community resources at ground level. A metro station is integrated with the building, linking the community and neighbourhood to the greater Paris area. In contrast to typical modern cities that displace the connection between the ground and nature as they grow increasingly dense and vertical, MAD’s scheme creates an environment that is generous in natural spaces. Embracing the Parisian legacy of integrating nature and gardens into the urban center and everyday activities, ‘UNIC’ actively enhances relationships within the community, represents the neighbourhood’s evolution, and offers a contemporary vision of how nature can be integrated into the urban environment.

 

Concept phase

MAD reveals its first residential project to be constructed in Europe. Located in Clichy-Batignolles, a newly developed neighborhood in Paris, UNIC is next to Martin Luther King Park and the currently-under construction courthouse designed by Renzo Piano. MAD won the project through an international design competition in collaboration with local French architects Accueil - BiecherArchitectes.

 

“We worked closely with the local government, city planners and local architects in a series of workshops to ensure UNIC is a creative and iconic residential project united with the community,” revealed MAD’s founder & principal partner Ma Yansong.

 

Facing Martin Luther King Park’s10-hectare green space, UNIC enjoys abundant neighborhood natural spaces. Accentuated by sinuous floor plates, each asymmetrical level slightly tapers as the building ascends to create dynamic spaces within. The floating and “upward-growing” form responds to an organic scheme. MAD attempts to blur the boundary between the architecture and nature through UNIC’s variably stepped terraces, which extend the green space from the park into the vertical space of the building, and additionally provides space for residents to interact with nature. Representing stacked courtyards, the distance between human and nature is collapsed.

 

Comprised of 13 floors in total, the building’s upper floors boast panoramic views of the surrounding city and the Eiffel Tower. The building applied a simple double core structure and bare concrete façade, both of which showcase the design’s elegance and simplicity. UNIC’s podium is conjoined with an adjacent public housing project and provides direct access to the Metro infrastructure and community resources including a kindergarten, retail spaces and restaurants. The resulting design enhances everyday community relations among a diverse socio-economic neighborhood.

 

After winning the competition, MAD participated in a series of workshops to explore topics from the macro-scale urban plans to micro-scale details, such as sustainable community development, resource sharing, energy management, and population demographics. MAD envisions UNIC to be a dynamic part of the community, to build an organic and harmonious new neighborhood, one that cultivates community with the emerging Clichy-Batignolles projects.

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