All of us have studied at various times in faculties of architecture but none of us could be classically defined as an architect. We are interested and work in design and communications, landscape planning and agriculture, light infrastructure for bicycles and small businesses for the new economy.
The Giraffe childcare center is located in the C1 block of the Seguin Rives de Seine district in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburban area of Paris. The program houses a 60 bed childcare center and 20 bed day nursery. The building has been awarded the green “zéro Energie Effinergie” label.
This public building is located next to Jean Nouvel’s “Horizons” tower, at the junction between the “Vieux pont de Sèvres” neighbourhood, built in the 70’s, and the new area called “ le Trapèze”. The High density of this area gives it a rugged skyline. To be integrated into this particular urban landscape, the building is composed of three tiers. Each of the south-facing playgrounds is in continuity with the interior spaces and is identified by a unique concrete animal sculpture. Viewed from the surrounding towers, the regular sequence of terraces offers a real « fifth facade » to the neighbourhood.
The facades of the building are made out of white corrugated iron that provides a minimal background to the wild animal sculptures. The idea is to animate the urban landscape by using a child’s imagination. The wild animals appropriate the space; a giraffe appears to be peacefully eating the leaves of the trees from the neighbouring park, a polar bear tries to clamber up the steps, while a family of ladybirds climbs the façade in an attempt to reach the interior patio.
Architecture turns into storytelling. The building changes its identity and becomes a landscape in its own right, a metaphor for the urban jungle. The animals and the trees link the building to nature and motion. The giraffe has become a banner for the nursery since it is visible in the surrounding area from all angles. We walk through its legs to enter the building. Through their affable form, the lively animal sculptures invite us to live our dreams. These playful and dreamlike sculptures introduce a little bit of fantasy into the routine life of the town in order to inspire our lives with a bit of poetry.
Nine teams of architects worked together to create 180 housing units, as part of a workshop named “Autrement Rue Rebière” and chaired by Paris Habitat and Périphériques architects. The idea of narrowing the section of Rue Rebière that runs alongside the Parisian Batignolles cemetery leads to recovery a strip of almost 600 m in length and 12.60 m in width. As the figurehead of the “Autrement rue Rebière” project, the 21 social housing units designed by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes are located in two buildings, of three and nine floors, separated by a garden of Japanese cherry trees. The most of the flats boast dual or triple orientations: south, south-east and south-west facing. The flats are very bright in order to increase the impression of surface area.
The urban planning regulation prohibits housing units from having openings with views facing the cemetery (north façade). All façades, including those facing the cemetery have not been differentiated deliberately. They are all made up of dual-colour panels (white and galvanized metal) in a check pattern. According to the light, the time of day and the viewpoint, they reflect different colours.
Detached from the building, three elegant columns of covered flower-shaped terraces spiral upwards. Each housing unit has its own remarkable terrace, designed as an “extra room” with specific qualities: it is an independent, hybrid space somewhere between the exterior and the interior, and its specific colour gives each flat its own atmosphere. These 14 sqm open rooms, directly connecting to the living room, offer a range of uses and have lighting. This size means that there is space enough for eight people seating around a table or for hammocks to be hung up. The inhabitants can enjoy 360° views, overlooking the 11 green hectares of the Batignolles cemetery, the major green space at Porte Pouchet. From the 5° floor, the Paris cityscape opens up, from Montmartre, to the Tour Eiffel.