In Bordeaux, a mixed-use complex with 33 subsidized rent apartments and 44 apartments for open sale built in a former mail sorting center
In the Saint-Jean Belcier district of Bordeaux a large area near the railway station of the same name that adjoins Place D’Armagnac is the site of a major urban reclamation and redevelopment project initiated by the local government. A part of the national Bordeaux-Euratlantique project – which has seen the redevelopment of large urban areas, including Armagnac, along with improvements to buildings and public parks, and the building of prestigious architecture intended to upgrade the areas concerned – the district is becoming a focal point for the city of Bordeaux.
The renovation of the Tri Postal block is one of the most important parts of the project. Occupying a full block, the complex , which, as the name suggests, was Bordeaux’s mail sorting center until 2016, is a massive architectural presence given the scale of the district. It comprises three separate sections. CoBe Architecture et Paysage was responsible for the renovation of the easternmost part, that is, towers L1 and L2, which share a common base and, together, form a mixed-use complex with homes and office spaces.
The architectural languages of the façade expresses a dualism between contrasting geometries. The first four levels have balconies that encircle the building, defined by a regular geometric pattern of concrete beams and uprights. The design is perfectly rigid and traditional, giving the architectural composition a grandeur and sumptuousness. The residential towers, on the other hand, are animated by long cantilevered balconies that break up the linearity of the lower levels. The effect of solids and voids, overhangs and recesses, shaded and lit portions of the façade creates a deliberate contrast with the lower floors, the composition becoming gradually more animated as it rises into the air from its solid base on the ground.
The colors and materials chosen for the finishes underscore this duality, the shades shifting between sand-colored pre-cast concrete (a wink at the city’s traditional façades) and an extremely smooth-grained light gray concrete on the upper levels. Finally, concrete is combined with perforated aluminum for the balcony balustrades, reflecting a traditional Bordeaux design that lightens both the cantilevered sections and the composition of the façade as a whole.
The two residential towers house 33 reduced-rent apartments and 44 available for purchase. They range from small studio apartments through large apartments with several bedrooms, as well as duplexes on the top two floors.
All of them, however, have a selection of internal finishes that reflect the neutral, contemporary architectural language of the façades as well as the option of a balcony or terrace, which compensates for the absence of common outdoor spaces at ground level.
The position of the towers at the eastern end of the site does, however, mean that the homes have views across the city with no other buildings obstructing the view.
Location: Bordeaux, France
Architects: CoBe Architecture et Paysage (L1 & L2 architect)
Managing Architect: ECDM (managing architect)
Construction Manager: AIA Management (construction manager)
Design team: AIA Ingénierie, Le Sommer, Forten, BTP Consultants
Client: BNP Paribas Real Estate
Gross floor area: L1 (social housing): 2.560 m²; L2 (housing for sale): 3.267 m²
Photography by Luc Boegly, courtesy of CoBe Architecture et Paysage