The architecture of retirement homes today is stereotyped. Architects try hard to “cram” the elderly into buildings with specific labeling, such as “cottages”, “villages for the old”, “frail care lodges”, whose overall aim is to reflect the symbolically rural. The exterior aspect of these buildings is usually requested to be conceived of rather traditionally, with a rather small scale, and with slanted roofing, “rather like in a village”.
But here we are in the heart of Paris, and in the 21st Century. The people who will reside in this establishment come for the most part from the surrounding neighborhoods, they were born and have lived their lives in Paris. When the operation is completed, the inhabitants will have lived through an era of the internet and Facebook. And so we ask ourselves: Why, at all costs, must we turn back to an old idea of the city, or away from the city entirely?
We propose an urban project whose scale is consistent with its surrounding neighbors. A modern project taking note of its era, as well as of the progressive changes in elderly care and housing practices. A Parisian housing establishment without architectural effects of style, easily blending into its neighborhood. The structured heterogeneity of the real world is reflected in our project by means of a spatial horizontal stratification. To control the scale of the establishment’s whole through a legible, distinct, and compact distribution of its three principal areas, the nursing home, FAM, and the nursery, we decided on the following spatial organization: the ground floor is reserved for an entrance area, communal spaces, and for the nursery, the first two floors are reserved exclusively for housing, the third floor for large communal terraces as well as for organized activity space, the fourth and fifth for the nursing home’s housing units. The basement areas are connected via a logistical gallery. The interface between residential life and life outside comes into play in the project’s human-scale social apparatus: communal, open gardens and terraces, views facing the outside, halls with recreational facilities and organized activities, hairdressers, spas, etc.Location: Paris, France Architects: A/ZC – Atelier Zündel & Cristea Client: I3F Consultants: Igrec ingénierie / Atelier Villes et Paysages Cost: 30 M€
Surface area: 14,000 m² net
Mission: Research studies + construction
Program: Nursing home, FAM, nursery, parking lots Images: Atelier Zündel Cristea