Porte des Lilas Urban Development Zone: Day-care and Young Workers Hostel.
The new RIVP (Paris public housing agency) building houses three services: a hostel for immigrants, a hostel for young workers, a 66 place day-care on the ground floor, as well as communal facilities. Located in Paris’ 20th arrondissement, just beyond the beltway, it is both Parisian and Lilasian. The building’s almost unique location in Paris makes it a concrete symbol of the reconnection between the two areas.
The building is part of an area undergoing immense change: the beltway, which is partially covered and lies just to the west, the site’s sloping topography, the art-house cinema and experimental platform. The building plays with all of these elements, using them as new reference points.
Services and Architecture
The structure’s homogeneity is a reply to the building’s symbolic nature; it is visible from the area’s new public spaces. The high density of the services offered translates into very carefully planned housing, and is offset by two breaks, which divide the building both horizontally and vertically, and increase the value of the compact spaces:
The third floor is open, and has a view of Paris. This is a common space for residents, where they can access all the community services provided.
A vertical rift, which is a source of light for the circulations and faces the street, offering a visual link between hostel life and the area around it.
The hostel’s common amenities (media center, sport hall, group kitchen, etc.) are all located on one level (third floor). This area offers the two hostels’ residents the possibility to “live together.” It allows them to get to know each other as they participate in different activities. The goal of mixing diverse groups together has real meaning here. It brings the client’s main ambition of bringing different hostels together under one roof to life.
Complementing the horizontal break, the vertical rift hollows out the building (on Rue du Docteur Gley), channeling natural light into the circulations and the urban space, creating areas for people to come together and relax on each floor. It also creates a break in the rhythm of the 30 flat per floor distribution.
Located entirely on the ground floor, it faces south. The rooms enjoy generous light and extend to the outside play areas. An aerial canopy made from a light metallic mesh covers the play areas, giving a sense of protection without blocking any light. A combination of delicate and rustic plants borders the playground.
Within the hostel, the flat “type” is designed to make maximum use of the space available, and to provide a flexible living area. The architect-designed furniture has been custom made. Shutters mean the kitchenette can be closed off, and the table contains built in drawers. There are two sleeping options, either a pullout bed or a trundle bed. A bench and wardrobe are also designed to maximize space and comfort, while the bathrooms are naturally lit using a light well.
The entire building is covered with a homogeneous skin. Referencing the buildings around the outskirts of Paris (low cost housing), the choice of authentic materials makes a link with a characteristic era of RIVP construction. The building is faced in brick, which is long lasting and easy to maintain. The bricks have been placed using a square edged joint cut, and are handmade. This semi- industrial manufacturing method gives the brick infinite shades in its anthracite tones. In order to bring out the sensual pleasure of this material, the two caesuras are dressed in copper. The luminosity and reflective quality of this material contrast with the velvety texture of the dark brick. The building’s rounded edges are dressed in brick, and the successive setting back of floors 7, 8, and 9 from the building’s base frees the up space for some small terraces in varnished aluminum. The building’s compactness has allowed for mostly 2×2 m windows for each studio, which are on average 18m².
Two wind turbines are installed on the roof. They supply the day-care during the day and the hostel at night. This choice of energy supply, still in its infancy in an urban setting, is particularly justified here. The building is located in an elevated position and is in a wind corridor. Solar panels located on the roof meet 30% of the building’s energy needs.