The project is particularly attractive as an attempt to give subsidized housing a new face. The deliberate setting of fine details strives to convey a feeling of quality. For instance, this can be seen in the flooring of the lobby, a herringbone pattern in marble.
On the other hand, the true heart of the project remains hidden from passers-by: an intimate, north-facing inner courtyard. This is structured by a loose, white network of catwalks and stairways. This is the main access to the living units. It creates a sheltered area that enables conversation among residents, but also ensures a certain degree of privacy.
Subsidized Housing Reinterpreted: LESS in Paris
Client: ICF La Sablière
Architect: AAVP Architecture
Location: Passage Delessert, 75010 Paris (FR)
The building project, which initially met with little enthusiasm from the immediate neighbours, is in a key location. The long parcel of land is characterized by the canal to the east and adjacent industrial structures which now attest to former commercial activity. The new living and sports complex known as LESS stands along a through street at the south edge of the block. The main complex continues around the corner to the north to add a smaller volume to the whole.
Density and Small-Scale Construction
The basement and ground floor are home to a gymnasium and a dance studio. The building features 69 living units distributed over six storeys. The floor plans of the apartments are all arranged according to the shotgun approach. Some of the apartments are in duplex form. Every apartment has a private exterior space, as terraces on the first upper storey and as loggias of various depths on the higher floors. These jutting free spaces enable conversation, yet ensure residents a modicum of privacy as well. They have the effect of making the complex seem less monumental than it is, despite its enormous size. Rather, it appears modular, even small-scale. Moreover, the loggias give the complex its high recognition factor.
Permeability and Delimitation
The loggias are of larchwood, which reappears as a design element throughout the entire project. The ground floor stands out from the rest of the building. A metal grid covers it in a delicate veil that makes a fascinating interplay of permeability and delimitation. This shields the gymnasium, which is behind the grid, from inquisitive glances without any great loss of natural light.