Social housing solution by Vous Êtes Ici Architectes

Social housing solution by Vous Êtes Ici Architectes

Social housing in France is looked at differently than in the US. Because of the project you’re about to see I had to look up the official definition of social housing because I thought… maybe I have it confused with something else.

Social housing// noun

housing provided for people on low incomes or with particular needs by government agencies or non-profit organizations.

That’s what I thought… and now I wish I grew up in France… and got to live in one of these. No, not really, but I’m still impressed with the way they do things.

The architecture firm, Vous Etes Ici Architectes, was selected for this site and project and took into account the surrounding buildings and neighborhood functions. In a giving spirit they designed the building and laid out its footprint with their neighbors in mind. The sexy pictures that follow are from 11H45.

“The building is set back from the street, allowing the sunlight to reach the school courtyard set across the street,” explained studio founders Alexandre Becker, Paul Pflughaupt and Julien Paulré. “This setup allows respiration and gives space back to the pedestrian passage.”

 quote via Dezeen


My favorite quote from the Architect’s description,

This setup allows respiration and gives back space to the pedestrian passage. The roof line is continuous and guaranties the continuity of the facades over the street. The set up on the plot is effective, the street is no longer only functional it has become sumptuous.

Respiration// noun

     the action of breathing; a process in living organisms involving the production of energy


     splendid and expensive-looking



The project is more an architectural device than a sculpture.




Paris-Housing-by-Vous-Etes-Ici_dezeen_15 I do like the wayfinding…



I wanna see it when the people move in. Social housing? Brings to mind a mish mash of furniture from garage sales, family picture galleries and home made curtains. I’ve had all of these things, at some point in my life, occupy the place I live in so I feel I can speak openly by saying I’m so glad that they didn’t stage it with Eames chairs and Design Within Reach sofas and rugs. With projects like this I’m always more interested in having 11H45 go back in a year and rephotograph the same views. Lets see how the residents furnish it and how much of that metal panel is dented and see how the wood wears and how those orange halls hold up.

I’m not saying I don’t like the project. The orange is a bold statement. I think they have taken the time to fit the footprint into the space available, I appreciate that they have taken into account the neighbors and their views and sightlines. I wonder if the orange color came from it being the dominate color of the graffiti in the area. Then I read an article on that said the orange color was selected for and approved by the kids in the school across from the project. The architect wanted them to like what they were looking at while they played outside. That’s kind of cool if you ask me.

Questions that fill my mind:

  • How does one get chosen to live in it?
  • Will the residents like it?
  • Can I go and survey them in a year? Please?
  • What was the point of providing something so juxtaposed to what other social living properties are like in Paris?
  • or is this common for the French governments idea of what folks should live in?
  • Was the design executed in this way to provide the tenants with something they have never had in an attempt to make them desire sculptural architecture and strive to someday have it for their own homes?
  • Are the walls painted orange to make everyone hungry?
  • If so, is that the right shade for it?
  • Is it to make the residents so uncomfortable that they go out and better their lives however they can just so they can move away from all of that orange and the angular spaces?
  • Why so many variations of materials at the exterior when the neighborhood looks mostly like white plaster?

Once again the article from gave me some insight on that last question.

To respond to Paris’ environmental plan, architects have clad some elevations with untreated spruce, which will age over time and blend in with the surrounding. ‘The other feature of the façade is the use of the pre-aged natural zinc, which integrates our intervention into typical Paris morphology, such as that of the neighbouring buildings,’ explains Paul Pflughaupt, one of the principals of Vous Êtes Ici Architectes.

So there you have it. I appreciate the statement above “intervention into typical Paris morphology”. It is truly a trademark of the architect to play with words, it really does sound so much better than, “we wanted it to look unique and unlike anything else in the hood”.

One thing is for sure, I need to learn more about social housing in France.

Stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “Social housing solution by Vous Êtes Ici Architectes”

  • I love the project, it’s so uninstitutional and uniquely responsive to its context. Perhaps the overbearingly orange circulation spaces are meant to discourage loitering…. It seems like it would be difficult to linger for very long in them.

  • I am interested in hearing more about how they decided that is cost effective for social housing. Did they hire maintenance people to keep up with all of the painting with all of that orange? Just silly questions like that…

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