In 2006, the city of Bondy, in the suburbs of Paris, launched an urban renewal programme that applies to its northern neighbourhoods, beyond the Ourcq Canal. The area called the Noue Caillet where this building is located is typical of the post-World War II reconstruction. 2,023 flats where built between 1959 and 1964 in order to address the need for housing. They were high-rises that ranged from 2 to 13 floors. Yet they haven’t aged well and no longer respond to today’s urban stakes. Any improvement of the living environment of the inhabitants means an upgrading, a de-densification, an opening-up and integration to the urban fabric of these social housing neighborhoods.
The Noue Caillet is a landlocked neighbourhood with degraded public spaces, yet it has quality facilities such as schools, a post office, day nurseries... In order to make it more attractive, the city has decided to pull down 362 social flats. The 50-flats building designed by Guérin & Pedroza replaces a 13-storey high-rise with 270 flats. As mentioned in the programme and in order to de-densify the area, the building covers only half of the former built-up area. The design of the main façades facing east and west present a division and various sequences that suggest that the building is a compound of residencies and not just a piling-up of boxes. Being a low-rise with only 6 floors produces the same effect. The building being set up on a north/south axis grants a maximum sunshine for each of all the flats which great quality lies in the fact that they opens in two or three directions.
To respond to various requests of the programme, the architects Guérin & Pedroza have opted for an architecture that is simple in that they went for a well-tried bioclimatic design. Passers-by and people living in the neighbourhood enjoy the sight of façades covered with a plain coating and wood, a soothing material, like the ground floor gardens may be. The sliding shutters animates the four sides of the building, depending on the weather and the time of the day. The building has been tought as a residence divided into three. Each part has its own access and elevator. On each floor, two or four flats take place. The 5-bedroom flats are duplexes located on the ground so each has a garden as required in the programme. On the other floors, different kinds of flats are put together in order to mix all types of inhabitants. Each flat has its own balcony, terrace or garden that extend the living space to the exterior.
The building follows the norm of the green building standard called the BBC (low energy building) and has a 45 kWh/m2/year, that is 5 kW less that the level expected by the label. The building is compact and let the sunshine in so that its energy efficiency is good and ensures the inhabitants’ well-being. The exterior insulation reduces any thermal loss. Following a bioclimatic concept, all the flats can be naturally cross-ventilated. For a better summer comfort, the balconies bring shade and coolness. So do the wooden sliding shutters. In the sun heats the flats for free. These environmental devices are completed with 34 solar thermal collectors (75 square metres) placed on the roof. They produce hot water. And for who can enjoy gardening, they can use the rainwater collected on the roofs.