The rebirth of the Serpentin public housing development by Agence RVA

The rebirth of the Serpentin

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

The Serpentin housing complex was built by the architect Émile Aillaud during the 1950’s and 1960’s. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Courtillières neighbourhood was in decline and suffered from a degraded image.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

In response to this alarming situation, the French state and local government authorities chose to implement public funds through the National Urban Renewal Agency (ANRU previously known as the “Grand Projet de Ville”) in an effort to remediate the existing conditions for the welfare of the community and its residents.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

In 2002, Agence RVA was awarded the contract for the design and rehabilitation of the ensemble of properties belonging to the public housing developer, HLM de Pantin, including the Serpentin housing development, the Fonds d’Eaubonne and Point-de-Pierre housing developments and a public park.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

The aesthetic aspects of a building’s façade and its colour scheme were of extreme importance for the architect, but the coloured cement plaster façades were damaged over time due to multiple hasty building interventions and to the wear and tear of the fragile plaster surface material.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

Architects in collaboration with a graphic designer decided of a unique and distinguished design. The street front is treated uniformly:  a continuous, vertical colour gradient signals the Serpentin within its immediate context.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

The park-facing façade is treated with multiple, sparkling horizontal colour gradients, varying in length such that the building’s entryways are differentiated from one another.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

The Urban Renewal Programme (PRU) and its associated funding enable the amelioration of the housing units’ spatial organisation, the modernization of each unit’s kitchen and sanitary equipment as well as increased thermal and energy performance. The goal is to rehabilitate the Serpentin so that it meets current housing stock standards and codes.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

Housing unit figures:
635 original housing units > 511 housing units after rehabilitation + a facilities management office;- 21 housing unit typologies; – 100 % of housing units with street and park views (except studio units); – 100 % of housing units with a park view.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

Construction programme:
Complete interior renovation: only the exterior walls, floors and windows are conserved;

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

Equipment and finish upgrades:
Installation of new electric and sanitary equipment;
Installation of a new controlled mechanical ventilation system; Realisation of new wall and floor finishes. Source by Ante Prima.

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly

Location: Pantin, France
Architects: Agence RVA
Principal: Dominique Renaud, Philippe Vignaud
Principal architect: Nicolas Trentesaux
Graphic designer: Atelier Pierre di Sciullo
Engineers/Economists: ARCOBA –ARTELIA
Landscape architect: Agence Vincent Pruvost
Client: Pantin Habitat OPH
Project site surface area: 75,000 m2
Housing unit density: 80 housing units / hectare
Year: 2015
Photographs: Luc Boegly, Courtesy of Ante Prima Consultants

The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly
The rebirth of the Serpentin
Photo © Luc Boegly
The rebirth of the Serpentin
Site Plan
The rebirth of the Serpentin
Section Housing Plan
The rebirth of the Serpentin
Plan project
The rebirth of the Serpentin
Original Model
The rebirth of the Serpentin
Original Housing

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