Perimeter block, courtyardPerimeter block, infill
Saadi, Emmanuel | Paris, France | 2000
Image of Oberkampf/...
Street facade and corner entry

ArchitectSaadi, Emmanuel
Address155 rue Oberkampf, 11th arrondisement
Building TypePerimeter block, courtyard
Perimeter block, infill
Number of Dwellings11
Date Built2000
Dwelling Types1, 2 & 3 BR maisonettes, 1 BR flat
No. Floors4, 6, 7
Section Typemaisonettes,
Exterior Finish
ceramic tile, corrugated aluminum siding, aluminum windows, metal railings
Construction TypeRC frame
Ancillary Services

In contrast to the many large new housing sites in Paris that were part of the Zones d'Amènagement Concerte (ZAC) program of the 1990's, projects containing thousands of new apartments, shopping, schools, and public institutions, this modest complex contains only eleven small dwellings. Built on an impossibly small site, 7 meters wide and 50 meters deep, this infill situation between a Haussmann era building that aligns with the street and a 1960's apartment slab that is setback to a different zoning has the added complication of building between misaligned buildings. This narrow, left-over site, while of extreme proportions here, is typical of many building sites along this part of rue Oberkampf and the Belleville district in general. Other difficult infill projects in this area include Frederick Borel's apartments and Post Office also on rue Oberkampf, other Borel buildings on Boulevard de Belleville and rue de Belleville, another of the Post Office projects by Brenac and Gonzales on rue Etienne-Dolet, Henri Gaudin's famous corner block on rue de Mènilmontant of 1986, and the several sites on the hill along rue des Cascades designed by Antoine Grumbach in the early 1980's.

In addition to the extreme proportions and difficult alignment and the extreme difference in height (11 floors on one side, 6 on the other), Saadi also had to make setbacks to provide light access for existing courtyards on the interior of the block. The resulting pattern of solid and void is achieved with three separate buildings that define a small entrance court, a second narrow light well, and a narrow passageway to the rear of the site where there are two small garden courts on either side of a 4 story block of maisonettes. In the overall massing schema, a seven-story block of small maisonettes fronts the street and makes alignment with the façade of the existing apartment building. This element, finished in gray ceramic tile, consists of 3 maisonettes above a common storage area at the street level. Each of these dwellings has a large flush window and projecting balcony facing the street. The side facing the setback space in front of the adjacent 1960's apartment slab is punctuated with glass block squares that light the stair to the second level of this small apartment. A second ell-shaped building that rises to a height of 7 floors has a flat at the ground floor and large masonettes on the upper floors. This building slips past the front block of maisonettes defining an entrance gate and a tall narrow light well on the interior of the block. The program required that 50% of the apartments were larger and all of these dwellings are located in this building. A zone of service spaces around the inside edge of the light well are lighted with glass block with the living spaces and bedrooms opening front and rear. A round stair and elevator rise in the narrow court as freestanding elements that connecting to each building with a narrow bridge at every other floor. The ell block is covered with corrugated aluminum panels that form a flush-machined surface that is interrupted by a single window facing the street. Windows at the rear of this element look upon a small, walled rear courtyard garden. The lower building at the rear of the site backs up to this courtyard and is connected by a ramp to the entry courtyard. The two stacked maisonettes here are organized as two rooms that are slipped slightly in play to make room for the open steel stair that services the upper maisonette. These two apartments have windows to a walled courtyard garden at the rear of the plot.

This very compact ensemble of buildings and courts forms a rich group of tower-like objects along the street that compliments the varied heights and styles of the existing buildings while responding to the zoning setbacks at the front, the side courtyards and the rear. A rich variety of apartments are packed into this complex envelop that includes tiny maisonettes facing the street, long, narrow flats with small windows at the ends, and a pair of town house-styled small maisonettes rendered as a separate building in the open space at the rear of the site. The very restrained pallet of materials, aluminum panels, grey ceramic tile, flush aluminum windows with exterior fabric blinds, and bridge, and balcony elements with open balustrades, reinforces the minimalist imagery and elementary geometry of the site planning and individual dwellings.

Adventures Architecturales á Paris; L'art dan les regles, Éditions du Pavillon de l'Arsenal, Picard Éditeur, Paris, 2000, pp. 216-221

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