Shifting on its axis - La Defense l Nanterre l France
Farshid Moussavi Architecture designs new housing block in western Paris suburb
Defining the historic axis that continues beyond the Grand Arche de La Defense, sits a landscape of tangled and inaccessible monoliths. Whilst making formal gestures towards their context, often mimicking the square opening of the Grand Arche, these structures have proven ineffective in binding the social and infrastructural fragmentation that has occurred since its conception. The development of Le Parvis Jardin de l’Arche presents the exciting opportunity to inject much needed life into the area. Through diversifying its programme and acting as a connecting node, it will glue together its surroundings.
To avoid the visually banal vertical extrusion of unit types, the distribution of assisted and market living is inverted from floor to floor. In our proposal, commercial activities and student housing occupy the lower levels, bringing life to the streets, whilst residential units, with their own access points, fill the upper floors. By increasing the number of cores, residents are provided with greater privacy, allowing the building to be only 12m wide.
Simply by twisting the angles at which each floor abuts another, obliquely relative to the Axe, instead of flat views across the axis, residents experience panoramas down its path. The building is composed of one slender 12m wide volume, making all apartments dual aspect, flooding them with natural light. Because of the shifting of the floor plates, the building’s large surface area exposure opens up the apartments to more views than would be the case with a deeper floor plan.
The distribution of student living and commercial spaces brings life to the street level, whilst maximising the privacy for the market and assisted housing on the upper levels. Multiple cores expedite internal circulation for residents and provide a level of privacy that a multi-block proposal cannot often afford.