Case study — Pattern: Social Housing by Chartier-Corbasson Architects

Given that Karin Chartier and Thomas Corbasson (Chartier-Corbasson Architects)'s Social Housing, rue Saint-Antoine, Paris, 4th arrondissement, have already been commented in various blogs and web magazines, this post will focus on one aspect of their Social Housing: the external envelope.
A best introduction on pattern study can be found in Architectural Design, Volume 79, issue 6 (November/December 2009) "Patterns of Architecture".
Social Housing, rue Saint-Antoine, Paris, 4th arrondissement, © Chartier-Corbasson Architects,
photography © Yves Marchands & Romain Meffre

A summary to open this short case study. The Social Housing façade is a new façade for the gable-end bearing the traces of a building which has been demolished. The existing building, a typical Parisian building, has been preserved and renovated.
Each unit is equipped with a terrace or a balcony. The upper storeys have been enlarged with the addition of extra space to the existing area of each floor, creating more spacious accommodations.
Detailed of transversal section of the façade © Chartier-Corbasson Architects

The gable has been opened out to allow the best possible views.
It is clad with an external perforated anodized aluminum skin to protect a reinforced thermal, acoustic double insulated glazed window. These double-glazed windows facilitate energy saving and minimize noise and solar heat gain. Some perforated metal panels are sliding panels others are fixed panels. Perforated aluminum panels are mounted on aluminum sliding frame while aluminum fixed panels are on support brackets.
Case study: Generic perforated pattern after Chartier and Corbasson's
perforated anodized aluminum panels,
generic perforated pattern © Annick Labeca
photography © Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

This metal skin protects balconies, terraces, open-air staircases leading from the interior courtyard.

As the architects say, this perforated metal skin required long research in terms of feasibility and performance. They met with constraints of symbolic, luminosity and maintenance to design and manufacture these panels.
© Chartier and Corbasson Architects,
Photography © Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre
> The perforated metal panels provide shade to the terrace
balconies, and open-air staircases.
These sliding panels create an interior-exterior relation
with the surroundings: occupants can take
advantage of the views or be protected from outside.
Dots repartition and their diameter remind a photograph of leaf, that has been pixelated.
 This perforated metal screen can be compared with two projects: FOA's Carabanchel Social Housing's louvres on bamboo and Herzog and de Meuron's de Young Museum's embossed skin.
First Herzog and de Meuron's de Young Museum. It seems that the French young architects were inspired by Herzog and de Meuron's work on the building façade, precisely this embossed copper envelope. The architects used an image of vegetation as materials to design this skin. This "image" has been translated into a pixelated matrix than can be duplicated in three-dimensional patterns.
Like Herzog and de Meuron, Chartier and Corbasson use several diameters of perforation that, then, were projected on panels.
This strategy of covering the gable of the Social Housing with dot panels can be compared with FOA's bambou screens, too. Such as FOA's façade, Chartier and Corbasson's perforated metal envelope forms an attractive façade; it provides shade to the terraces, balconies and open-air staircases. The anodized aluminum panels are treated to last, and are corrosion resistant. As this envelope is partly made out of sliding panels, the occupants can take advantage of the views of, or, be protected from the surroundings.

Who are they?
Chartier-Corbasson Architects is a Paris-based agency founded by Karine Chartier and Thomas Corbasson. The agency has been selected to participate in 2008 edition of Venice Biennale.

Building sheets
Project: Social housing
Architects: Chartier-Corbasson Architects
Client: SIEMP
Location: 74-76 rue Saint-Antoine, Paris, 4th arrondissement
Typology: 3 one-rooms, 4 two-rooms, 4 four-rooms
Metal Façade: Portal
Façade consultant: Robert-Jan Van Santen
Contractor: Fayolle
Net Surface: 900 sqm SHON
Budget: 2,1M€
Construction start: 2007
Completion Year: 2009

Plans, sections © Chartier-Corbasson Architects
Photographs © Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

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