Transformation Instead of Demolition and Construction

© Philippe Ruault

All over the world, large hous­ing estates like Cité du Parc rise upwards out of spa­cious park land­scapes. They are often con­sid­ered »social hotspots.« As is the case here. In the ear­ly 2000s, the French state decid­ed to rethink the future of such hous­ing estates. This is where the archi­tec­ture firm Laca­ton & Vas­sal with Druot comes in. The team had been work­ing on this ques­tion for some time: How can spa­tial trans­for­ma­tions be planned and imple­ment­ed so that they do not lead to occu­pant dis­place­ment? The office’s work illus­trates that alter­na­tives to demo­li­tion and new con­struc­tion do exist. And they define new qual­i­ties in build­ings, which many believe can­not be improved.


Trans­for­ma­tion de 530 Loge­ments et création de 8 loge­ments en toitures—Grand Parc Bordeaux


Laca­ton & Vas­sal Archi­tects, Frédéric Druot Archi­tec­ture, Christophe Hutin Archi­tec­ture, archi­tec­ture ofWices; Bernard Blanc, for­mer Gen­er­al Direc­tor Aqui­ta­nis; Alain Jup­pé, for­mer O.P.H. de la com­mu­nauté Urbaine de May­or of Bor­deaux; Aqui­ta­nis O. P.H. de la com­mu­nauté Urbaine de Bor­deaux, commission




Bor­deaux, France

The hous­es of the Cité after the recon­struc­tion mea­sures. 2,300 of 4,000 apart­ments were ren­o­vat­ed between 2012 and 2017. But Aqui­ta­nis also car­ried out sim­i­lar mea­sures in oth­er large hous­ing estates in Bor­deaux, test­ing a dif­fer­ent approach to exist­ing build­ings instead of demo­li­tion and new con­struc­tion as part of the Généra­tions d’Habi­tat Inno­vant (GHI) pro­gram. © Philippe Ruault
© Philippe Ruault
Aqui­ta­nis, the social hous­ing asso­ci­a­tion of the Bor­deaux Métro­pole local author­i­ty, is the own­er of the build­ings. The company’s for­mer gen­er­al man­ag­er, Bernard Blanc, was able to pre­vent the demo­li­tion, among oth­er things by argu­ing that the Cité du Grand Parc has been part of the UNESCO World Her­itage Site of Bor­deaux since 2007. Fol­low­ing an archi­tec­tur­al com­pe­ti­tion, the deci­sion to retain the build­ings will mark the start of the ren­o­va­tion work in 2011. The con­struc­tion task com­pris­es the trans­for­ma­tion of a total of three disc-like res­i­den­tial build­ings: Blocks H and I, each 150 meters long and 45 meters high, and Block G, which is 60 meters long but only 31 meters high. © Philippe Ruault
© Philippe Ruault
In the first phase of the recon­struc­tion, the lat­er con­ser­va­to­ries and bal­conies, which were deliv­ered by usu­al trucks, were placed in front of the exist­ing facade. Only then did the adap­ta­tion of the exist­ing shell of the build­ings con­tin­ue: the old win­dows were dis­man­tled and new open­ings were cut into the facades. The quick assem­bly, made pos­si­ble by the high degree of use of pre­fab­ri­cat­ed ele­ments, helped to ensure that the occu­pants did not have to move out dur­ing the recon­struc­tion work. © Philippe Ruault