60 Social Housing Apartments in Epinay

Surprise Me!

Epinay is a “dormitory suburb’ north of Paris. It contains a large amount of social public housing built in the 1950s, presenting vast length and bland facades. Each entrance, every corridor and each plan are the same, with the block replicated countless times across the suburb.

To build new social housing, in this area, on a very long and narrow site, is a challenge. To achieve the tight budget, simple construction methods and the materials are almost a given.

In order to counter this unloved typology, the entrance ways are treated differently. Some units are arranged off a central corridor, others off side corridors creating new types of unit. Sometimes the vertical circulation is expressed by its own unique colour. The massing of the block is fragmented to create a finer grain. These changes provide variety to the local cityscape and encourage the occupants to take pride in their units and identify with a section of the block. they can now look up from the street and point to their unit exclaiming : ‘i live there!’.

Location: Epinay, France               48°57’15.23″N, 2°17’34.55″E
Date: 1994
Design team: Lacoste+Robain
Photography / images: Thierry Lacoste