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M Building Housing, Stéphane Maupin, Paris, France

Highly Commended in the ar+d Awards for Emerging Architecture, The M Building manages sight-line constraints with panache, creating a village within the city

The site for this new social housing project in the north-west part of Paris came freighted with constraints. On one side, a secondary school, on the other, the Batignolles cemetery, over which no views were permitted.

Architect Stéphane Maupin’s response was to devise a long, linear block, like a liner at full sail, and to carve out the middle section to create two symmetrical cascading terraces.Clad in familiar Parisian zinc, the shimmering terraces resemble a modern ziggurat, providing extra indoor and outdoor space for residents to colonise, as well as offering surreptitious Rear Window-style views.The bold, angular forms of the terraces brilliantly rescue the block from dull, introverted compactness, and capture light at all times of day.

The building becomes a kind of intimate village within the city, its life expressed by the activities on the terraced landscape. The jury admired the concept and the panache of its equally assured execution.

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M House

The adjacent cemetery could not be directly overlooked, so the landscape of zinc-clad terraces captures light and views, provides extra space for residents and saves the block from dull introversion

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