Located on the immediate outskirts of Paris, Issy-les-Moulineaux is dotted with many brown sites where factories and warehouses once stood. The municipality is in the process of radical urban transformation. Falling within the precincts of a ZAC (Zone à Aménagement Concerté), or area earmarked for extensive urban revitalisation, the Carré Seine district has scheduled a challenging residential building project on a plot overlooking the Seine and Île Saint-Germain, the island in the river. A public-private programme, it has set itself high-end quality goals: sustainability and duration, architecture that blends with context, managed density, and permeability of the overall programme.
The project comprises three buildings: two multi-storey residential blocks with a total of 69 different size apartments (from studio flat to 4-5 bed units), and a linear, 9-storey 175-room hotel with some retail space on the ground floor and underground parking. The three buildings are arranged so as to create an open central court with many connecting routes to the outside, and to offer a variety of views to all occupants.
An essential sustainability feature is the aesthetically pleasing wall system for all three buildings: a 35 cm thick multi-layer, thermally insulated outer cladding.
Although relatively simple, the geometry of each volume is no less striking. On the outside, the prevailing smooth wall surfaces are juxtaposed to other textures: bricks on the internal hotel façade - a one-off feature of the programme - and concrete slabs with a delicate pattern of horizontal streaks on the frontage facing the river. Resembling bamboo, these textured surfaces reflect the light interestingly.
The most striking architectural feature is, however, the addition of zinc sheet “boxes” on the outside of the two residential buildings. Attached to the corners of the structures, they project at different angles to each other and rise in staggered fashion up the sides of the building. As well as providing additional living space, these add-ons present a striking juxtaposition of internal wood panelling and stark metal beams and mullions.