26 Apartments in Montreuil: Social Housing

Benjamin Fleury

Architects: Benjamin Fleury
Location: Montreuil, France
Area: 1.640 m2
Year: 2019
Photography: David Boureau

This project is integrated into a suburban housing environment. Located on Rue des Chantereines in the city of Montreuil, the project site faces housing blocks typical of the 60s, with heights that range from five to 10 stories. On the other hand, the inner borders of the lot are surrounded with houses and their gardens.

COOPIMMO is our client. It is an affordable housing cooperative that has become one of the first producers of social housing based on a renting-purchasing system. COOPIMMO is also a pioneer at the national scale in the use of the “Fair Lease Agreement”, a plan that regulates the price of land for this type of constructions. Its structure allows it to take action all around the Paris urban area.

The project is well-defined by the following characteristics:
– Integration within a complex urban environment.
– Economical context with social home ownership.
– Low energy consumption (MINERGIE-P label)

Multi-scale Context

The first intention of this design is to develop an insertion on the site that creates a dialog between the mid-60s sharped volumes and the small scale of the houses around it, while generating a contemporary morphology.

To achieve this purpose, the project is divided into two blocks. The first one is urban, located at the front of the lot along the street, whereas the second one is residential, at the heart of the lot.

The void created in between the two buildings becomes the center of the composition, where social interactions can easily take place.

The garden is generously filled with deciduous trees, allowing the space to be bathed in sunlight during the winter, and protected by shade in the summer.

Social Home Ownership around a Green Courtyard

These accommodations were first offered to local families who could not easily afford to be homeowners. The principle of the social ownership is simple: in addition to the regulation of low housing prices, families can get a loan without pre-existing capital and then become owners after an initial period of renting.

Because of the buyers’ precarious economic status, already affected by their loans, it seemed essential to reduce the maintenance costs of the building.

To this extent, the design incorporated a single vertical circulation core. Located in the first building along the street, it leads to generously lighted landings. The second project block is linked to this circulation core by a footbridge, which is connected to the apartments by an exterior passageway. These features altogether (footbridge, passageway, balconies, etc.) gather the flow and the animation of the buildings in a unique central space, which stimulates interactions between people and the creation of strong bounds.

Low Energy towards Low Construction and Maintenance Costs

In addition to the need for reducing maintenance costs, environmental concerns led the design towards passive solutions. In that regard, the single vertical circulation core, completed with the footbridges and passageways, makes it possible for 85% of the apartments to have dual orientation. All rooms face east or west and are largely bathed with direct sunlight in order to take advantage of the heat gain.

On the other hand, heat losses are limited thanks to triple-glazed wooden windows.

Second, to keep up with this logic, thermal bridges were eliminated through a careful design of the façades. They are composed of two layers of thermal insulation: 10 centimeters inside, and 20 centimeters outside.

The double flow mechanical ventilation system reduces the gas consumption due to heating.

Finally, the solar panels placed on the roof serve to heat 40% of the hot water used by the apartments.