The "Cité des 4000" projects many images, points of view and studies across the political, urban and artistic disciplines. Built in 1956 by the Ville de Paris, this large-scale operation was designed as an estate composed of blocks sited alongside each other. This siting principle generated undefined and unused free spaces, preventing the appropriation of public spaces which are wasted. The regeneration of the Cité des 4000 has endeavoured to suppress the effect of uniform and impersonal blocks to give, once again, meaning to the public space with a true landscape and human dimension.
Building on the Cité de 4000 estate could not be undertaken without a detailed analysis of the community, cultural, economic, urban and architectural expectations. It should avoid the existing failures linked to past developments that don’t consider the potential landscape and its appropriation by residents. This concern is reflected in the spatial layout of new buildings so that the residents appropriate their homes and living environment. The proposal gives a new identity to the neighbourhood while integrating this diversity currently missing at all scales of the project.
The heterogeneity of the blocks provides the cityscape with a multi-faceted "skyline" that avoids monotony and block siting on the streets. The different volumes are located on the site to create a maximum of vistas for the housing units while creating a minimum of blanks, co-visibility between them or with their surroundings.
The configuration of the volumes on the site generates generous sunlight provision to the housing units and central garden. Summer and winter comfort are a determining factor in the building layout to optimise the thermal performance of walls and to build with an environmental approach. Siting provides housing units with different orientations and thus provides no rear elevation nor blank gables.
Two setbacks also bring air and more daylight to the entire block, either from Avenue Henri Barbusse or from the mall towards the Grand Verlaine. They create porosity between public spaces and the block centre, promote vistas and weave links between the city and the shared community spaces.
The project proposes two clearly identifiable typologies: the "building" and the "superimposed town house". The articulation of these two scales is done through porosities and built continuities up to the site boundaries.
These principles take form through a simple configuration that articulates three distinct elements: to the west, on the boundary that separates it from the neighbouring parcel, a 6-storey building and, on Avenue Henri Barbusse, a 4-storey terrace of superimposed duplex houses. On the southeast corner of the site, a 6-storey building is attached to a 4-storey terrace of superimposed duplex houses.
Alternation of building heights renders it possible to read the diversity of typologies from the public space, through a simple and obvious reading of their different advantages. On the one hand, flats with all rooms giving on to long balconies and on the other, proper houses with wide decks that give the complex a human-scale elevation. These townhouses are planned around generous volumes and a central timber staircase.
Common areas are places for sharing and encounters between residents. Diverse itineraries are created through the shared spaces (lit halls, common decks, garden patios, central vegetable garden, ...). The project creates places for socialising and, through these spaces, provides the means for community living. Diversity of use*
The project proposes optimum habitable conditions by establishing planting in the block centre, that allow for different uses. These are created throughout the shared spaces: bright, spacious glazed halls, a large bicycle room that can be transformed into a meeting space, multiple accesses create a diversity of routes, private gardens and wide decks protected by a brick mashrabiya screen, daylit landings and a large central shared garden.
The access to the block centre is through a central deck that serves all the buildings. These alleys are lined with brick mashrabiya walls and the planning of open spaces in the block centre promotes the use of the interior garden, more than 150m², which becomes a proper market garden space.
The brick and metal joinery screen to private outdoor spaces create the transition between community life and the home. They provide the possibility for the home to open out or to remain private. On the blocks of flats, the project varies the heights of the window sills, depending on the floor level, to increase the daylight provision and to frame a vista, either more vertical or more horizontal according to the urban landscape.
Variety of materials:
The estate is domestic and simple, both in volume and detail. It draws into coherence and resonance three materials and colours: white concrete, brick and larch. These three materials dialogue with each other and harmonise in the overall reading of the project but also in the details of their execution. The intention was to leave the materials as unrefined as possible for longer durability and better integration within the site. In the blocks of flats, the white concrete underlines the expression of the timber and metal joinery details while on the superimposed houses, the timber cladding underlines the details of the double height, white volumes. The function of the brick mashrabiya screens, the white metal joinery and the window joinery, provide all the elements with a simple and refined joinery.
The diversity of volumes, architectures and uses is the underlying principle of the proposal. The project provides multiple readings of the exterior and interior spaces of buildings that facilitate appropriation by its residents. The success of the project will be determined through the use of the shared spaces that are the essential means for community living.
White concrete, stained larch timber cladding, larch timber joinery, lacquered steel joinery, white cement bricks, galvanised steel ironmongery, light grey cement slab.