Fort de Vaux by Petitdidierprioux Architectes

Fort de Vaux

Difficult context, quality housing
Adoma’s challenge was the construction of an apartment house with 71 units for young workers. A challenge whose main purpose was the creation of small but pleasant and quality units in a difficult urban setting. Comprised of a “signal” building which emerges from a “blade” building, the project’s location bordering the Paris beltway takes advantage of its particular relation between architecture and infrastructure.

Location
The Ground floor+10-story “signal” building is located above an existing parking garage facing the beltway and takes advantage of the width of the access road to rise to the maximum height allowed by local zoning. The Ground floor+3-story horizontal “blade” building creates a gradual transition with the neighborhood to the west and behind the lot.

Construction solutions have been adapted to the presence of the underground parking garage. In particular, owing to the fragile structure and the economic decision not to demolish it, the garage cannot be used. Thus, a stool-type framework encloses and passes through it at only a few points in order to ensure that the foundations and the new structure rest upon stable ground. This structural configuration results in a simple and regular framework on the façade.

Lot
The project is located on a piece of land belonging to Adoma that benefits from an existing underground parking garage which has lost its authorization for use as a garage. Standing beside the Paris beltway, the project has been slipped in next to a business school and serves as a link between Paris and Levallois-Perret, of which the latter’s limits run along the back of the lot. This Janus-like function of urban link inspired the building’s dual façades.

Facades
The project was mainly designed to be built with concrete prefabricated elsewhere. Concrete elements were imagined for easy yet subtle assembly thanks in particular to a rabbeted framework design, which also endows the whole with a dignified ornamental appearance. The limited load bearing structure frees up room for large bays all the way around the building, which are either treated opaquely with brick, or transparently with glazing, and which can be modified as the building’s uses evolve (lofts, offices, family housing units, etc.).

Though simple in appearance, the building’s design lends itself to two ways of perceiving it. The materials employed fit the softness of the lot’s context (concrete and brick in shades of gray). The skillful and nuanced treatment and color shading of these materials results in a common element accenting the large openings and indicating interior uses and qualities while also enhancing the building’s status as a “signal”.

Housing units
Imagined for young workers, the apartments offer compact floor areas (64 studios and 71-bedroom units in a “parents/children” configuration). This requires providing additional value to each apartment in order to ensure quality living quarters. In this type of program, comfort and wellbeing are achieved through the attention given to the common areas, as well as views toward the outside. A covered double height porch serves as the entrance to a
large lobby at the base of the emerging building.

In this same building, five units per floor are organized around corridors filled with natural light. The window arrangements alternated according to the floor in relation with the bare-bones structure opens many unique and far-reaching perspectives (the new home of the Tribunal de Grande Instance, the Eiffel Tower, broad landscapes, etc.). Apartments located in the blade structure benefit from views onto the garden located at the back of the lot, as well as wide corridors which can also serve as common areas.

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