Living in the Treetops: Apartment Building by Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés
The commune of Romainville lies at the gates of Paris, where the city districts flow together. An entire residential district has now arisen on a once-vacant lot which borders the main street to the south and apartment buildings of six to nine storeys to the north. The whole block, with the exception of three smaller existing buildings and a construction field on the other side of the street, was available to the architects for this project. Although the grounds can be accessed only by residents, the new development opens up new, varied perspectives to neighbours and passers-by as well.
The apartments are distributed over five buildings which divide again above the ground floor. They look like ten lightly positioned tower blocks. A diagonal axis links the buildings, each of which has three to five upper storeys. The striking contours on the edge of the block interact with the neighbouring constructions, while green areas within the complex and angles of view between the individual structures create open spaces.
With their different floor plans, each of the three building types featured here will appeal to a particular target group; this will lead to a social blend among the tenants. The terraced building serves on the one hand as an urban-planning mediator between the different scales found outside and inside the grounds. On the other hand, it offers the residents generous patios that face the green inner yard of the development. The townhouses represent a second style of residence; these are accessed via a private garden. Apartments that sit atop the townhouses form the third type of unit. Here, the floor plans for 90 % of the flats have two or even three sides with an outdoor orientation.
The architects have laid great value on both communal and private outdoor areas. The latter appear in the form of encapsulated units of space that stand between the buildings like treehouses and give the complex its unique look. The larchwood-clad cubes sit on treelike iron supports in front of the buildings. Each one can be reached by crossing a bridge leading from the corresponding apartment. Measuring 9 m², they essentially provide an additional, open-air room. The comings and goings in the undergrowth can best be observed through the larchwood slats.