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.