Valence is to get a breath of fresh air. The limited resources notwithstanding, the aim of the design is to create the best possible residential amenities by exploiting the architectural potential. The environs of the housing area in the historical centre of this town in the south-east of France present a special challenge for the planning of inexpensive accommodation. The new development blends with the existing fabric. The perimeter wall, which serves as an interface with the surroundings, and the preserved facade of an 18th century printing works symbolise the transformation of the ensemble. The new complex has the shape of a geometrical “s”. The advantage of this is that the old courtyard can be kept and a new one inserted. The history and physical appearance of the quarter are thus maintained but a layer of new uses is superimposed, enabling several chronological layers to be incorporated into the architecture. A highly rational approach has been taken to the construction of the compact buildings. Between the outer walls and the reinforcing partition walls there is a multi-usable space that offers flexibility in respect of the living arrangements.
The individually designed private outdoor areas also soften the rigour of the meandering structure. Privacy and public presence combine to produce a unity in diversity that leaves adequate scope for individual creativity. The idea of integration – in both social and town planning terms – is reflected in the choice of materials. A deliberate decision was taken to dispense with any pauperist aesthetic of the kind now re-emerging in French residential construction. On the contrary, the architecture is intended to give the future residents excellent amenities and a sense of identity in their immediate surroundings.