Îlot 19 La Défense, Nanterre, France

Farshid Moussavi Architecture


Sitting on the edge of Paris' Grande Axe, Îlot 19 La Défense takes a unique approach to mixed tenure residential housing. Defying the typical notion that affordable housing should look simple and inexpensive, it relies not on high budget but the assemblage of ordinary elements that challenge preconceptions about how modern housing should look, and how we should live. The building is equally crafted across all levels of affordability and provides similar levels of privacy, light, fresh air and flexibility throughout; rejecting the notion that these are luxuries only the privileged few are entitled to.

Regardless of tenant type, quality private outdoor space and dual aspect units are provided. This is achieved through the building's unique envelope and tapered floors. Its alternating stepped silhouette creates a recessed balcony on one side, and a protruding loggia on the other. As the orientation and size of each space varies throughout the building, an unusual level of spatial diversity is generated behind a unified envelope. Hence the range in size, shape and orientation give prospective residents a variety of choices. An equally inclusive approach to cladding means all apartments and student rooms have full height glazing and sliding aluminium shutters. A student room is given the same 'interface' as a simplex apartment or penthouse, making the different categories of affordability indistinguishable from the exterior urban realm.

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