The river Seine and the new Billancourt park provide a permanent spectacle: UNIK emphasises generous views, planted terraces and balconies for every apartment, as well as its participation in the first European residential home offering facilities specifically designed for people living with “Locked-in Syndrome”.
After almost two and a half years of construction work, Beckmann-N’Thépé (B/NT) has delivered a residential group of properties to Boulogne, called “UNIK”. The first residents have already moved into this living artwork, which is designed to be in natural continuity with the park. Thanks to its ribboned urban form, its visual rifts and the garden which runs through it, the project is in constant dialogue with its surroundings, creating a contemporary signature through its use of white concrete and a ribbon of coloured glass. The composition of the facades is inspired by the visual spectacle of the Billancourt park and the river: a mosaic cladding reflects the landscape that surrounds it in its choice of colours, and modules in white concrete form balconies and walkways with a line of generous openings that punctuate the verticality of the volumes. This grouping of different elements means that each apartment is unique.
Day after day the luxuriant and abundant vegetation takes root. The park continues not only through the central garden but also on the buildings’ facades, all the up to the rooftop terraces, giving a distinctive identity to the whole development and transforming these spaces into a framework for plants and bushes. The general sense of vegetation blurs into the distance, enabling the residents to “keep their heads in the clouds”.
This richness and this diversity is mirrored in the design of the apartments, where a variety of different layouts offer a response to different lifestyles corresponding to the demands of different generations. Another important element of this unusual project is the integration of a residential home – the first in Europe - for people living with “Locked-in Syndrome”.
The Maison Perce-Neige is at the heart of the development, run by the organisation ALIS. The fruit of a partnership between AP-HP, the organisations Perce-Neige and ALIS, and the Boulogne-Billancourt council, this residential home will allow up to twenty patients living with LIS to benefit from their own bedrooms, physiotherapy and ergotherapy treatment rooms equipped with the most up to the minute communication technologies, a specially adapted restaurant and a garden. This is the first such home in Europe and it represents a remarkable achievement for ALIS, founded in 1997 by Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of Elle magazine, who suffered from LIS. He brought the attention of the wider public to this relatively rare syndrome in his book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which he dictated by blinking his eye.
The organisation offers psychological support and technical and financial information and advice to people suffering from LIS as well as to their families. Residents of the home will be able to lead as normal a life as possible, thanks to apartments specially-designed to accommodate their special requirements.