Architects: ecdm architects (Emmanuel Combarel, Dominique Marrec)
Location: Avenue du Général Malleret Joinville, 94110 Arcueil, France
Project year: 2014
ZAC du Coteau building is located in Arcueil, just on the outskirts of Paris. It consists of two towers connected funcionally and visually by the shared garden area. On the first sight we are caught by the dynamic fluid shapes of this structures. While it might seem way to extravagant and unpractical to live in, looking closer we find out that the volume is actually perfectly rectangular and pragmatic – the distinguishing undulating form is actually created only by the balconies.
The site´s terrain declines which is reflected in the height of the towers and the topography is also used for hiding the garrages. The building is mostly surrounded by greenery and a deserted area which is soon to be turned into a park.
The characteristics of the site have a strong impact on the concept – the calm are in the midst of greenery inspired the authors to take advantage of the outside space as much as possible. This led them to expand the area of the floors by balconies all around the building. The ondulating layout creates cantilevers up to 3,2 m wide. Balconies are the widest next to the living space and the smallest next to the bathrooms. Layouts of the floors alternate so the building has the maximum possible amount of sunlight.
As far as the layouts of the apartments go, they remain as functional and simple as possible. The buildings consist of 101 owned townhouses and 40 social-units. Appartments in both towers are accessed by the inside staircase and lift. While they are usually smaller two or three room apartments, they all feature a large-scale balcony – actually, it is representing at least 50% of the living area.
floor plan – level 0 and a typical upper level
section and schema of acces
While from far apart the railings of the balconies seem heavy and concrete like, looking close we see it is actually a thin perfored metal. This play with heavy and light, solid and see-through only ads to the dynamic of the design.
The balconies are the focal point of the design so it is no wonder they have these dimensions. Nevertheless, some people may argue they are way too generous. Smaller, almost minimal appartments would normally not allow for such large outdoor spaces. But then again, we have to remember and understand the environment of the building. As the architects themselves commented, their goal was to move the main living space outside. While this way of living might not be for everyone it can surely find a lot of admirers – it provides the feeling of owning a little bit of the oudoor space, the illusion of living in the house with a garden – basically the ideal of the living on the periphery.
Photographs by Benoit Fougeirol, all images courtesy of ecdm architects