Paris XII by MARS Architectes
Location: Paris, France
In 2012, Mars Architectes was appointed by GECINA to make a study on all his Parisian property and to indentify the areas that could now be built on due to recent changes made to the local urbanization plan of Paris and to some french urbanization laws. This project is part of that study. Finished in october 2020, it is located in the twelth district of Paris, on the ‘’avenue de Saint Mandé,’’ and enclosed at the heart of a block, surrounded by an appartment complex built in the 1970s.
”Walking in Paris, we sometimes catch a glimpse of its hidden side, when a partially opened porch unveils an unexpected richness, a calm and peaceful atmosphere, precious and vegetal, which gives a particular relish to Parisian heart of blocks. This surprise, the poetry of these concealed and glimpsed urban spaces is at the heart of the project.”
Thus, from the street, through the residence main entrance, we guess an unusual vegetal density, standing like an invitation. In opposition with the street, the inward courtyard unveils a garden evoking an undergrowth full of ferns, ground-cover plants, resinous trees and other tall trees, like a transition between two universes: ”the urban one and the private one”. At the end of a path which weaves through the undergrowth stands the project, a wooden building rigorously structured, evoking japanese temples, and renewing a wise modernity.
The balconies protect the shutters and the woodwork from bad weather, by keeping them set back. The endings of structural elements which are confronted with the elements are protected with white paint, thus confering rythm to the facade. Through this rythm, but also through the expression of the structure of the balconies, the choice to keep the assemblies visible and the sliding panels system, emerges an architectural style which is simple, strong, original, and totally in osmosis with the garden.
At the foot of the building, a canopy seems to signal an entrance. It turns out to be a passage whose whiteness contrasts with the wooded atmosphere of the garden. This pathway goes through the project and leads to a second level of inwardness, even more secret, which changes our perception of the site, revealing a totally white courtyard with intimate dimensions, a space shared by all the inhabitants which serves the dwellings through footbridges, as balconies on the courtyard. From this succession of ambiances emerges the quality of the dwellings. Going home is an interval, a fundamental point in the quality and in the positive perception of a home, a hinge point where the necessary detachment between the intimate and the outside world takes place.
The project had to be exemplary both in terms of usage and of environmental issues, in accordance with current concerns: quality housing (light, atmosphere, materials) and frugality in their construction and energy consumption. The open gallery strategy made it possible to design flats that systematically run through the building, an intrinsic quality allowing space expansion, clearance of corridors as well as a simple and effective natural ventilation.