No. 467 . 17 March 2010 
ArchitectureWeek
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Housing on Rue des Vignoles

by Terri Peters

Eden Bio can be difficult to find. One might think it would be hard to conceal almost 100 new public housing units in this part of Paris's 20th arrondissement, but local architect Édouard François has managed to do so, inserting rows of low-rise apartments, duplexes, and small houses into the middle of a city block while presenting a minimal, modest face to the street on three sides.

On rue des Vignoles, two narrow pedestrian paths lead into the block past a row of buildings that blend into the neighborhood. Behind these structures, it looks at first glance as though temporary timber scaffolding has been erected around what turns out to be a long, linear apartment building that bisects the block.

In fact, the wood framework is permanent, incorporating balconies, exterior staircases with concrete treads, and what amounts to an enormous trellis that thousands of young wisteria plants have begun to climb.

The architect says he conceived of the 7,700-square-meter (83,000-square-foot) development, also known as Villas des Vignoles, as modestly scaled "little houses" rather than monolithic housing blocks. In the two rows of maisonettes that flank the lattice-encased apartments, François used pitched roofs, varied building heights, and several different facade treatments to break down the massing and make each house and duplex look distinct.   >>>

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