“Housing in the Mass City” was a lecture in which we studied different examples of social housing, condominiums, high-density residential compounds, etc. We looked at many models, good and bad, of what a housing complex should be. This lecture helped me form my own opinions on what should be included in an apartment complex and what is important in a good design. One example that stood out to me in particular was Jean Nouvel’s Nemausus Social Housing project. This compound contained many of the aspects that I think are important and I therefore find it very successful as well as interesting.
Among the most important things that every social housing project should be is sustainable. Nouvel’s project was sustainable in a few different aspects. Probably the most prominent of these was the way that Nouvel cut construction costs. He used simple, industrial materials and minimal interior finishes. This technique is efficient because it does not use as many materials and they are more readily available so it does not waste fuel trying to transport them a long way to the site. He used a simple structure, which was easy and efficient to build. Nouvel also placed his structures on the site in accordance with sun angles to maximize their heat intake.
The second thing that I think is very important in a housing compound is an open plan and flexibility, which was one of the main concepts of Nouvel’s project. He organized the plans of each unit to have one main core but with no other dividing walls. This leaves the rooms up to the tenant. I think that this is effective because it serves to leave the space convertible. Another way that Nouvel makes the space flexible is the large wall made of all windows that can also convert into a large sliding glass door. You are able to make the unit even larger by utilizing the outside spaces. Nouvel uses this blending of outdoors and indoors in more than one place within his design. All of the corridors are located outside on the balcony. This gives the whole building a pleasant atmosphere where the line between indoors and out is indistinct.
A few other amenities that Nouvel included in his design, which I think are very important and effective are: the parking garage located beneath the apartments, the green spaces for each unit and the common spaces through the building. This space includes a small park located in between the two buildings as well as the balconies with seating all along them. Each unit is larger than a standard apartment complex, which Nouvel accomplished by keeping open plans and adding the “back porch” balcony.
All of these things together add up to make a very successful housing complex. Not only does it include many wonderful aspects, but also each unit is unique, interesting, and tastefully designed. This complex would be a place that I, as an architect would love to live and I really appreciate the design aspects.