65 Parisian social housing units of high fashion

Be inspired by this building, which stands out with its elegant facade with protruding waves.

In the 13th arrondissement of Paris, a building stands out with its elegant blue facade with protruding waves. The care taken with every detail, right down to the integration of solar protection, enhances its aesthetics. We met with one of its architects, Julien Abinal of the Abinal & Ropars agency in Paris.

Griesser: Can you describe the building that A&R designed on Boulevard Vincent Auriol?

Julien Abinal: In the heart of a dense urban block, this building is a bit unusual. This thick, irregular block unifies facades with distinct orientations, uses and characters, while dealing with the classic issue of a Parisian boulevard by its corner situation. Those facing the neighbouring new buildings on two sides have given rise to linear loggias, continuous planters, with some bird boxes. A system of steps opens up the main days to the adjacent buildings, while continuing to sculpt this block. The facade facing Boulevard Auriol and Rue Jenner is a large pleated structure that alternates between re-entrant planters when the facade is recessed and bow windows for the outgoing corners. Each flat is different. We wanted to offer pleasant outdoor extensions to the building's residents, knowing that they also have access to a common 500 m2 roof terrace with a shared vegetable garden.

G: What were the environmental requirements?

J. A.: This building was designed in 2016. So we were already involved in a climate and biodiversity plan, NF Habitat HQE, and Effinergie + biosourced label. The thermal and acoustic insulation, which is important because of the proximity of the underground railway and the boulevard, was carefully treated. This building has been equipped with an energy recovery system for grey water. Considerable work has been carried out on the horizontal and vertical vegetation. The roof garden contributes to the use of timber for the terrace and the planters. We also installed a reverse ventilation system: the stale air is drawn downwards with extractors in the basement. This treatment has an interest in terms of quality of use, by freeing this space from technical elements. In addition to the stairwells and lift shafts, this roof terrace also includes rooms where the gardeners can store their tools. The landlord has commissioned an association to help users take possession of the roof.

G: What were the technical priorities for this building?

J. A.: On the façade, we worked on a mineral cladding. Although its geometry is relatively clever, the building was erected using traditional structural work, albeit with a few specific angular blocks. It is insulated from the outside, covered with rock wool with a 2 cm air space. The facade then uses a whole vocabulary of mineral modenature, creating a dialogue between distinct products. The spandrels are made of prefabricated concrete, tinted, sandblasted and matt. Lightweight panels form the lintels and mullions which have been plastered on site. The latter have a difference of about 3 cm in the nude, to break up the facing. Thus, despite the mass of the building, a certain lightness is expressed. Finally, we used vertical rules which are anodised aluminium profiles in a T shape, matching the champagne colour of the mixed aluminium-wood acoustic joinery. We had them spun specifically for the project in order to deal with the question of the joint between panels. Although it is over-signified here, it is nonetheless hidden because it is hardly visible behind the room, which is in the foreground.

G: The bay was also the subject of particular care in its execution?

J. A.: Zip blinds provide solar protection and comfort. They are of a warm colour in keeping with the joinery and the aluminium rules. Their guides were placed just behind the plaster. In a niche, the blind box is invisible, hidden by the plaster lintel. It also hides the acoustic air inlets in the wall crossing above the windows. From an aesthetic point of view, we have worked on many details: the load bar is made of anodised aluminium, the flush guides are powder-coated with a grey, matt lacquer to extinguish it and bring it closer to the plaster, the sheet metal of the pre-frame where the blind is fixed is similarly lacquered, as are the handrails.

G: You've chosen the Solozip II Intro blind with built-in guide from Griesser. Why did you choose this blind?

J. A.: We really wanted to install it flush with the window. With this new model, the guide can be removed not from the front but from the side. The subject was simplified by these reversed blinds which allow the pre-frame to pass between the joinery and the guide in order to position the handrails. In addition, there are no screws in the underside of the cover plate. Griesser developed a clip system for this project. Both the sales team and the planning department were very receptive to our request.

G: Why did you choose zip awnings over roller shutters?

J. A.: In terms of the façade, the roller shutter is still quite hard to express. And it's not always easy to hide the guides. The canvas blind softens the architecture. On this building, it went well with the light paneling work we were looking for.

G: How did you sell this service to the client?

J. A.: Firstly, zip awnings have an excellent wind rating. Secondly, we opted for fabrics from Mermet, which are also very durable. The warp and weft are not the same colour, giving a qualitative mottled appearance when seen up close. In the bedrooms, by doubling the blind with an opaque part that cannot be seen from the outside, the fabric also provides a blackout function.

G: How is this building pleasant to live in?

J. A.: Although this project has a certain density, we have managed to find breathing space and to provide a certain level of comfort. The flats are bright thanks to the generous lighting of the windows in all the rooms: bedrooms, living room, kitchen and sometimes bathrooms. We have also added 12 cm to the standard ceiling height to increase the feeling of space. The comfort provided by the sun protection is well integrated, and you can close the windows and no longer hear the overhead railway. In addition to the shared roof terrace, the communal areas offer cellars or storerooms on the upper floors to provide occupants with additional storage.

G: And how does it characterize the A&R brand?

J. A.: With all the corner lounges, the floor plans of the flats are of high quality. As the façade is quite sophisticated, I wanted to monitor the site myself, with work on both the writing and the quality of the implementation, which have been distinguished: in 2020 we won the Architectures prize, awarded by the magazine d'A. Sometimes, when you are an architect in the street, you get reprimanded. I have been in front of this building and have been complimented. It was the first time we worked with this client who actively supports architecture. The interest for us architects in collaborating with this type of historical landlord is that it has a long-term relationship with the building. And they have pushed the generous side of this project to the image of the shared roof garden which offers a real change of scene when you discover the view it offers from the ninth floor, not to mention its use in the city at the present time.

About the Project

Project: construction of 65 social housing units (PLI), business premises and a shared roof garden.
Address: 90, boulevard Vincent Auriol, (Paris XIIIe arrondissement).
Delivery: 2020
Owner: Paris-Habitat OPH
Project management: Abinal & Ropars (Paris Xe arrondissement), Édouard Ropars and Julien Abinal, architects.
Floor area: 5,114 m2

About the images

Image 1:
At 65 boulevard Vincent Auriol, the building signed A&R includes 65 social family housing units, an associative space, three commercial premises and a shared vegetable garden on the roof.

Image 2:
Alternating between a re-entrant window box and an outgoing bow window, each flat on the street enjoys a planted outdoor space and a façade that is offset from the aerial metro.

Image 3:
The acoustic air inlet placed high above the window is invisible from the outside, camouflaged by the zip blind.

Image 4:
The zip blinds (Solozip II Intro from Griesser) provide sun protection. The flush guides have been lacquered matt grey, the load bar anodised in 171 gold, has been turned over to hide the screws. Griesser has also replaced the screws in the underside of the cover with a clip system for a clean look.