The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter - April - May 2013
NL | EN | FR | IT

Focus on social housing

Conceived by « arc en rêve Centre d’architecture » in partnership with the Bordeaux urban community, the travelling exhibition « Social housing Stop !to preconceived ideas » is extended by different events celebrating in 2012 the centenary of the law creating the French HLM office (office for low-rent housing). Very topical, but especially a way to deny « a priori » ideas. Referring to the Le Corbusier slogan « housing like a machine to live in », the architect Paul Chemetov denounces a bad accommodation as a perfect machine to crush people. « There is no ideal social housing, he says. There are only habitable social houses. » However, when using the word « habitable » one offers a form of possible creativity to a type of housing by nature neutral and abstract. The examples of social programs developed in France during these last twenty years show an improvement of their image. Here and elsewhere they respond more and more to the demand for better insulation, common space, diversity, light... The regulations tend to impose an always much greater housing quality. All these constraints for accessibility, fire security, thermal rules and environmental norms put together, seriously increase the construction cost. Are the present operations therefore adapted to the social housing problems? In view of the excessive number of social dwellings in areas, called « sensitive », which urban and architectural choices have to be made? The emerging of a modest to medium class as the social leasers privileged target will probably give preference to new lower density housing types and better answers to environmental requirements and better valued exterior spaces. Obviously, from all these constraints will result a greater architectural and constructive quality, a real formal renewal with well-known offices such as Jakob Mac Farlane or Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa – S A N A A. Many mixed operation take place. A way to create real « town pieces » with shops and life spaces redynamizing the districts’vitality. The architect Rudy Ricciotti advocates « an urban architecture logic economically and socially structured » by placing aesthetic at the center of the projects without neglecting the energy performances. Of course one must never forget that the real issue is not architectural but politic.

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month

1) Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal

2) “Maison Latapie”

3) House in Coutras

4) Housing, Mulhouse

5) Management Sciences University

6) Bois-Le-Prêtre tower

7) Palais de Tokyo

Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal

Since thirty years, this architect duo successfully fights for the « better living ». Their projects illustrate their demand for a moderately priced architecture, but with generous spaces respecting sustainable development.

Anne Lacaton, born in Dordogne (1955) and Jean-Philippe Vassal, born in Casablanca (Morocco) in 1954 are both graduated from the Bordeaux architecture school (1980). They created their office in Bordeaux in 1987 after having worked with Jacques Hondelatte and lived a long time in Niger, before moving to Paris in 2001.

The Latapie House made them known (Floirac 1993) and still today gladly serves as a reference of their architectural spirit. Everything is practically already present. Although having to adapt to a small budget, the house is radically different from the traditional detached houses. It looks like a fibrocement warehouse and appears to be out of place with its wooden interior, with many multi-purpose and flexible spaces. Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal optimize the materials and the techniques from agricultural and industrial constructions. Luxury is indeed “not to have a marble floor nor golden handles but the quality of the available space but if you reduce the incidence of material to the product. More you are efficient to use the minimum of material; more you create luxury and space."

The two architects base their approach on this conviction. Since the beginning up to their recent projects, they adapt to various programs and scales. The use of materials diverted from their industrial usage like the house in Coutras (2000). The housing complex in Mulhouse (2005) or the hotel layout plan in Lugano (1999) show the important means put in place to produce the maximization economy. The Nantes Architecture School could represent the synthesis of their work: a twenty-five percent increase in the construction superficies without extra cost.

A light structure dividing the height of the main levels allows the generous installation of spaces dedicated to the program and creates a system ready for its future extension. Large double height volumes offer transparent façades catching the sunrays and regulating the interior climate. These intermediary areas propose protected spaces to really be « a place of exchanges, knowledge, debates, multiple events, a platform open on the city. »

The number of publications and retrospective exhibitions can easily measure their international recognition. The title of their book « Il fera beau demain » (It’ll be fine tomorrow), published when the first IFA exhibition took place in Paris in 1995, includes already their vision of architecture, that is to say a « certain enthusiasm and power to organize, support, calculate, compress, quote, start again, read and read again the program, save, simplify » Twelve years later in their book « Plus » they are opposed to the systematic demolition of the collective residential complexes built during the years 60/70 and want to defend their preservation and transformation.

In 2008, they were rewarded by the National Architecture Prize for the whole of their projects, all reflecting their way to do the maximum with the minimum and favor more the usage of the building than its image. They were often, wrongly, described as creators of « poor » architecture, but Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal are not maniacs of social projects. However their rehabilitation with Frédéric Druot of the Bois-Le-Prêtre tower, a social housing complex built in the 60s along the North Paris highway, was favourably commented. They decided to extend the floors outdoors like a sort of garden. Consequently, the dwellings are enlarged and this thickness built around the whole tower contributes, thanks to the thermal insulation created, to reducing significantly the heating budget.

When analysing the elements composing these residences now become unsuitable, by following the route going from interior to exterior, the architects renew the pleasure of living by enjoying what exists. Presently, housing projects only represent half of their activities, the other half being dedicated mainly to public equipments, like the second transformation stage of the Palais de Tokyo. Since it was reopened in 2001, this site of contemporary creation is characterized by the great liberty proposed to the works of art and to the visitors. This gives a feeling of well-being, of appropriation, of transparency. Ten years later, the new stage enables to open a maximum of new spaces to the public and to activities using all the volumes available for a very flexible programs management. The objective is also to continue the building’s technical renovation works essential to preserve its permanence and good functioning.

Brilliant but discreet, the two architects are stubborn to defend their ideas and won’t do anything second-rate, preferring to back out of a project if the conditions proposed are not satisfactory. They even confess having refused to participate to certain contests when the project didn’t please them, and that even right at the beginning of their career, unlike many other young architects. For them « the present issue of engineering is to think how to do the maximum with a given budget. The challenge is henceforth economical: how to produce more with less?»

They insist on certain notions, which they insist to integrate in their constructions, such as liberty, by freeing spaces and the pleasure of living in buildings well adapted to the location i.e. to the environment and the climate. «To live in a space, a site and a landscape rather than between four walls is fundamental.»

1) Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal

2) “Maison Latapie”, Floirac Bordeaux (1993)

3) House in Coutras (2000)

4) Housing, Mulhouse (2005)

5) Management Sciences University, Bordeaux (2006)

6) Bois-Le-Prêtre tower (rehabilitation), Paris (2011)

7) Palais de Tokyo (renovation), Paris (2nd phase 2012)

Project of the month

La Valentina, Sacramento (USA)
Architects: David Baker + Partners

In California, a social housing complex revitalizes an abandoned district thanks to its audacious design and its opening to today’s expectations.

Since more than two decades, high-crime and drug traffic have considerably damaged this place situated in Sacramento, opposite the La Valentina light rail Station. These factors, as well as the site pollution – a former garage – have stopped all endeavours to reconvert the area. The new development has given it a new life.

The project proposes 63 affordable residences for low-budget families and singles. Along the railway line, this building opens on an outside lobby and a staircase giving a large view at all levels and sides of the site. Each flat has a private balcony. Retail shops and a café give life to the street. Masked by a sort of « bar code » a long glazed panel lights up the ground level and during the night sheds a soft light while ensuring privacy for the community room inside.

Simple green and easily available strategies have been used to reduce the negative impacts of the construction and improve the residents’ quality of life. Due to the site’s constraints, most of the units are orientated towards the east or the west. The designers placed the windows on the northern side to minimize the sun impact, allowing the façade cladding material to double as a sun shade. A screen indeed winds around the building to supply shade whilst the open space links the area’s residents. Photovoltaic panels supply part of the electricity and a special insulation enables the energy bill to be 60% lower than for a conventional building.

The building also uses materials with a low environmental impact such as permeable paving and drought-tolerant landscaping. This exemplary project for Sacramento’s urban renovation shows what can be integrated in any city-centre: life spaces respecting environment and caring about social interaction. There lies the real difference between La Valentina and the other social housing developments.
Product of the month





ARCHIDELIS, an Austrian company dealing in materials and supplies for architects and students of architecture, offers an extensive and well-sorted range of model making materials for architecture, hobby and design as well as fine tools and small machinery.

ARCHIDELIS Workshops: In autumn 2013 ARCHIDELIS launches an export initiative towards European and international markets. They plan to offer a small number of workshops in the Technical Universities of Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna. As specialists in model making they will discuss some of the 12 ArchiWorld-Award winning projects during the workshops with students: starting with a short analysis of the building structures the team of ARCHIDELIS will support the students in the search of open minded interpretation and the manufacture of models.

Visions of a new Webservice: Following ARCHIDELIS’ slogan PUSH YOUR IDEA a software application is being designed for partial automation of the process of developing architectural models: the Parts-App starts off with the concept of a project to finally provide a list of materials ready for order at The application will be based on a 3D program composed of optional modules depending on the intended degree of detail. Another new offer of the ARCHIDELIS Webservice is the Glue-App that helps you find the perfect glue for any material-fixing task.

Inspiration can be drawn from the ARCHIDELIS appearance on facebook, tumblr. and google-plus where interesting contributions in the fields of architecture, design and art are made available. It is the aim of ARCHIDELIS to provide its customers – architects, students, designers, anybody engaging in creative model building – with the best possible support.

1) materials of ARCHIDELIS
2) source-
3) source-

___________________________ __________________________________________________

SERALIT EVOLUTION - Lead-free toughened screen-printed glass

SERALIT EVOLUTION is EN 2150-compliant toughened glass products that has been screen printed with a coloured mineral enamel, which can be opaque or translucent.
The lead-free enamels used in the manufacture of SERALIT EVOLUTION are fired at a very high temperature and toughened. They are fully incorporated into the surface of the glass and provide the products with exceptional durability and stability over time.

SERALIT EVOLUTION can be used for:
• facades:
in insulating glazing it can allow good visibility from the interior to the exterior and offers some protection from glare. EMALIT EVOLUTION is the ideal material for facade cladding, creating aesthetically clean lines. Uniform facades or contrasting features can be created.

• Interior décor: combines natural light transmission; it adds brightness with safety and privacy, to doors, partitions, …

For more information:
Event in the spotlight

The largest and most distinguished feature of the construction sector

Project Lebanon 2013

Brings unparalleled business opportunities to the entire region

The 18th International Construction Trade Exhibition for Lebanon and the Middle East will be held in BIEL – Beirut, Lebanon, on 4-7 June 2013, by International Fairs & Promotions (IFP Lebanon).

The exhibition is held concurrently with Energy Lebanon 2013, the 3rd International Trade Exhibition for Power Generation, Electricity, Lighting, HVAC and Water Technology, and EcOrient 2013, the 2nd International Conference and Trade Exhibition for Environmental Technologies, Sustainability, Alternative Energy, Water Technology & Clean Energy, held in partnership with Paris Ile-de-France Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This year’s event has evolved into one of the most specialized in this field, offering trade professionals, contractors and business visitors a unique opportunity to accurately identify their business needs. Exhibitors are also given the best possible chance to showcase their innovative products and services in the best layout and organization designs.
___________________________ __________________________________________________

Cityscape Qatar - 27-29 May 2013

has weathered the downturn better than many economies around the world. In the years prior to Qatar’s World Cup 2022 bid, the government had embarked on ambitious real estate, construction and infrastructure projects. Following the success of that bid, Qatar has introduced over $100 billion in new projects, many of which are already underway including residential, commercial, retail, and hospitality developments.

Cityscape Qatar,
backed by industry leaders, is an event that will support this continued real estate growth by providing a platform that will highlight high growth investment opportunities, showcase innovative products and underline sustainable developments.

Cityscape Qatar
will serve as a platform to bring together international, regional and local investors, architects and designers, real estate developers, governmental authorities and senior executives involved in the design and construction of public and private real estate developments from Qatar and internationally.

Visit Archi-Europe at Cityscape Qatar

More information:
___________________________ __________________________________________________

Cityscape Abu Dhabi - 16-18 April 2013

Cityscape Abu Dhabi is the only annual meeting point for governmental authorities, key investors and developers, consultants, architects, designers and other real estate professionals to drive growth in Abu Dhabi’s real estate market.

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2013 is where the future of Abu Dhabi’s master plan and key developments are being revealed. With over 25,000 participants in attendance, Cityscape Abu Dhabi is the opportunity to build and maintain your presence in Abu Dhabi’s real estate market.

More information:
___________________________ __________________________________________________


New times, new Construmat

Construmat, organised by Fira de Barcelona, is adapting to the new times and evolving to offer companies in the sector real solutions. At its 18th edition, which will be held from 21st to 24th May 2013, in the Gran Via Exhibition Centre.

A total of 170 building projects from emerging countries will be presented only to Construmat exhibitors at the Foro Contract with a potential investment of 30 billion Euros. The show will also host a VIP Hosted Buyers programme, through which the main international distribution chains will conduct arranged meetings with Construmat exhibitors.

The Construmat Innovation Center is an international technological innovation transfer forum where various technological centres will present their most innovative prototypes.

The Building Solutions World Congress will feature the best projects and practices following the parameters of innovation, sustainability and rehabilitation and energy efficiency with the presence of internationally prestigious architects.

More information

Competitions in the spotlight

Blue Stone Awards - International competition in architecture
for students, architects, landscape architects and interior designers

Carrières du Hainaut – founded in 1888 and currently one of the leading companies in the blue stone sector – together with Archi-Europe are launching the first edition of the Blue Stone Awards, a competition rewarding best architectural projects highlighting the use of blue stone in many fields/applications.

Projects can be uploaded in in the following categories:

• Compositions: assembling shapes and finishings
• Boldness: present your most surprising projects!
• Harmonies: matching blue stone with other colors
• Confrontations: blue stone compared to other materials
• Elements: Blue stone among water, air, fire, light
• Landscape: how to integrate blue stone into a site

Click here to register! - Deadline 09 September 2013!

For more information:
___________________________ __________________________________________________

Armstrong Green Buildings Award

Armstrong Ceilings and Archi-Europe are very proud to announce the launch of the first international competition for ideas open to students in architecture worldwide.

Ceiling systems are becoming a key element of energy conservation. Designing spaces with materials that can be endlessly recycled and reused contributes to the flexibility and longevity of buildings, and ceiling systems with their high recycled content, recyclability and use of rapidly renewable materials make a significant contribution to effective resource utilization through a full cradle to cradle approach.

Click here to register! - Deadline 07 October 2013!
(25/05 – 1/06/2013) Nuremberg (DE)
(5 & 6/06/2013) Brussels (BE)
(28 – 30/05/2013) Lyon (FR)
(30/05 – 2/06/2013) Madrid (ES)
Słynne Wille Polski
(>5/05/2013) – Wroclaw (PL)
Designs of the Year 2013
(> 7/07/2013) - London (UK)
>> read more
Deadline: 30/06/2013
d3 Natural Systems international architectural design competition
Deadline: 01/07/2013
OTTO LINNE AWARD 2013 Hamburg Horn - By Far: Green!
Deadline: 16/09/2013
Blue Stone Awards 2013
Deadline: 09/09/2013
Armstrong Green Buildings Award 2013
Deadline: 07/10/2013
>> read more

Contemporary Design Methods in Architecture
Mark Mückenheim & Juliane Demel

274 pages
€ 49.00
Bis Publishers
ISBN: 978-90-6369-267-4
>> read more
Berlin Urban
A Brief History of a European City Volume 2 Design
Harald Bodenschatz

182 pages
€ 28.00
DOM Publishers
English: ISBN 978-3-86922-105-2
German ISBN 978-3-86922-022-2
>> read more
Pour des villes à échelle humaine
Jan Gehl

212 pages
€ 34.00
ISBN 978-2-89719-009-5
>> read more

© 2013 Archi-Europe
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard
Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

Not yet a member of Archi-Europe? Subscribe here!
To unsubscribe from Archi-News, click here