Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Viravent, 112 flats in Cenon, France by Martin Duplantier Architectes
July 16th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Martin Duplantier Architectes
The burning issue in Metropolitan Bordeaux is a project of 50,000 housing units. Envisioned and designed to be a real estate opportunity, the overly dense development has created quite a controversy. The Viravent project proposes another paradigm. Built before the beginning of the 50,000 yet still comparable, given the shared design model (sited in the heart of town, but in a diffuse section without access to the ZAC), the Viravent project integrates into an existing urban fabric more than imposing upon it.
Socially, above all, it represents a mixing of first-time buyers and investors in a contrasted sector between large collectives and freestanding buildings. It is, in the same breath, a political statement. Until a few years ago, the construction of anything besides socialized housing in the Hauts de Garonne district would have been seen as incongruous. Only Foncière Logement was up for the challenge of social melding, choosing Jean Nouvel as their architect. Here, not a Nouvel is found, but an elegant architecture within a conserved frame, and a commercialization that has not lagged.
In terms of volumetrics, the two buildings follow the sloping topography of the site. The local city planning ordinance (PLU) has not been the subject of adaptation – as opposed to the 50,000 housing units – but the density Viravent creates sets a new benchmark for the region, with 140 units/hectare.
Lastly, concerning the preservation of enclosure, and the mineral and vegetal qualities of the site: made of limestone walls, cypress, and noble tree species, this border creates the first filter between the project and the external environment while creating a link between itself and the buildings surrounding it. The segmentation into two separate panelled buildings allows the project to better blend in with the environment. Long expanses of unbroken façade are rare, and the sight lines follow the sloping of the hills.
A reconciliation of scale
Laid across the entire length of the parcel, the two buildings offer panoramic views over Bordeaux and its environs. Furthermore, a dialogue is created between three differing scales: that of the neighbourhood, which has not changed, that of the city, which can be seen from the project, and that of the home, which contrasts its compact interior spaces with its generous exterior.
Though they appear autonomous from one another, the two blocks are connected via their basements with two levels of underground parking. The figure-ground thus creates a densely planted courtyard in the middle of the housing block, where the terraces climb, denoting the complex topography of the building site.
Green and black
The strategy of “integration at any cost” translates itself into the façade by a black mineral double skin. By absorbing the sunlight, it accents the green of the project’s planted portions.
Footpaths crisscross the courtyard and wrap around the buildings’ exteriors. A system of path making merges with the terraces, and allows for a reading of the topography, all the while highlighting the plantings.
MARTIN DUPLANTIER ARCHITECTES
Born in 1979 in Bayonne, of Franco-Belgian roots, Martin Duplantier grew up between Bordeaux and the United States. He earned his four-year degree from HEC Paris in 2003 and his Masters from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris – Malaquais in 2007.
Engaged in a global vision of architecture and sustainability, He draws from his experiences in China, Mexico, and Niger, where he developed, alongside the Akaras Association, a method of earthen construction that uses no wood.
He began his career in world-renowned architecture firms, namely with an internship at Gerkan, Marg und Partners Architekten in Berlin. He was then an employee at David Chipperfield Architects in London, where he was part of the Concept Team in charge of international competitions.
His international collaborations, his dual specialization, and the multipolar foundation of his office (between Paris and Bordeaux) form a singular approach to a project in which production and creation, issues of urbanity and the challenges that society faces are put into dialogue with one another, while forming a calling at a larger scale. His practice devotes its efforts largely to research and experimentation that are framed by a desire to find feasible responses to architectural problems.
Stemming from his previous collaboration with David Chipperfield, the pair decided to work together on the extension of the HEC campus at Jouy-en-Josas, which was delivered in Summer 2012. In the same stride, Martin is working on other campus-based projects, both urban and rural, that act as reservoirs for people and ideas where knowledge, the intangible, and the immaterial, mesh.
The main Emergency Centre of Biscarosse, completed in September 2012, was his first civic project. Martin Duplantier has also worked on a number of projects at the regional scale: the Seafront at Anglet, the development of Simrishamn Harbour (Sweden), and the Euratlantique Project in Bordeaux.
Driven by the desire to explore the design problems of our time (the rethinking of the campus ideal, the densification of urban centres, the rehabilitation of once-pristine lands, etc.), and the wish to enrich both his practice and approach, Martin attended the University of Bordeaux 2 from 2011-2012 to earn his Masters of Urban Design, all the while continuing his work at the firm.
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Category: Housing Development