Slab, corridorSlab, gallery-access, skip stop
Nemasus I & II
Nouvell, Jean & Assoc. | Nimes, France | 1985-87
Image of Nemasus I ...
View from the street.

ProjectNemasus I & II
ArchitectNouvell, Jean & Assoc.
Addressrue de Vistre/Ave. du Général Leclerc/Blvd. Salvador Allende
Building TypeSlab, gallery-access, skip stop
Number of DwellingsNA
Date Built1985-87
Dwelling Types17 diff. types of 2-3 bra. maisonettes
No. Floors6
Section Typeskip-stop, maisonettes
Exterior Finish
corrugated, gav . metal, metal railings, stairs and windows
Construction TypeR-C frame
Ancillary Servicesopen parking beneath building, balconies

Nemausus was a radical experiment in applying the principles and materials of industrialized building to the construction of social housing. Consistent with other "industrial aesthetic" projects by Nouvel of this period, these two apartment slabs express maritime and aeronautical imagery within the framework of an assemblage of pre-manufactured industrial components. Built in an industrial zone in the southwest part of Nňmes as part of a program to renovate a decrepit district of 1960's public housing, Nemausus was also seen as a radical alternative model for the usual limited, desolate programs of rent-controlled, subsidized housing. In addition to providing a fresh new image for public housing the application of industrialized construction technology sought to reduce construction costs and thereby provide larger, better dwellings.

Two seven-story, gallery-access slabs, aligned east and west, occupy each side of an existing alleé of plane trees in a neighborhood of anonymous existing apartment buildings and single family houses. The east ends of the two slabs which face Ave. Général Leclerc along the east side of the site are rounded and both are raised on pilotis providing covered parking at a slightly depressed lower level. The long slab faces Rue de Vistre along the north side of the site while the shorter block has been shortened to allow it to fit into the irregular area defined by existing buildings to the south and west. The grove of plane trees between buildings provides a diaphanous canopy of foliage that reaches almost to the top of the buildings.

The perforated PVC awnings that extend from the top of the buildings and the deflected, perforated metal balustrades of the cantilevered balconies on each side belie the repetitive rational order of the 5m x 12m structural bays. While the elevations are repetitive and continuous, there is a varied mix of flats, duplexes and triplexes packed in the typical skip-stop sections. Access galleries extend along the north side of each block, which connect to elevator stacks built within the frame and open metal stairs that are attached to the edge of the gallery. The cantilevered balcony on the opposite side of the building forms a continuous terrace along the south side of each dwelling. Corrugated aluminum panels, aluminum windows and white-painted bi-fold doors enclose the concrete structural frame and separating walls. Perforated galvanized industrial grating is used for the tilted panels of the balustrades and PVC agricultural louvers are used for the roof louvers. Both balustrades and roof louvers are attached but discontinuous elements, extended and deflected upward, giving the appearance of the extended flaps of a commercial jet. The balconies do not extend entirely around the curved ends of the building facing Ave. G. Leclerc where there is a continuous vertical strip of glazing. This flush, curved surface combines with the continuous balustrades, raised pilotis, and roof canopies to suggest maritime metaphors.

The typical apartment is defined by 5x12 meter bay but includes the space of the terrace that is covered by the cantilevered balcony above. The dwelling typology includes 17 different types including several different flats, duplexes and triplexes that range in size from one-bedroom flats to three bedroom triplexes. Most of the flats are on the top floor; however, some of the triplexes extend into this level where the top floor bedrooms have separate entry and exit. Every apartment has bi-fold metal doors opening the full width of the dwelling. Most of the multi-floor dwellings have two story high volumes and some have two-story high doors. The industrial quality extends to the interiors where the concrete is left unfinished and manufactured panels and stairs are also used. In some of the flats the 5m bay has been divided into smaller rooms, but in most of the apartments, the full width of the structural bay is kept and the impression is of very generous, open loft space. To Nouvel's chagrin, the idea that savings in construction costs resulting from the industrialized building techniques and minimal interior finishes would be passed along to the tenants in the form of much more spacious, generous dwellings was never realized and apparently rentals were determined by floor area instead of building costs.

Pere Joan Raveltllat, Block Housing, , Gilli, Barcelona, 1992, p. 66-71.

Archithese, Sept-Oct. 1988,

GA Houses, No. 23, Aug. 1988, p. 50-9.

Jean Nouvel, Patrice Goulet, Ed. du Regŕrd, Paris, 1994, p. 118-125.

L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, No. 239, June, 1985, pp. 22-27.

Jean Nouvel, Oliver Boissire, Terrail, Paris, 1996, p. 46-51.

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