TETRARC aims to solve housing problem in Nantes
The challenge for TETRARC was clear: can they demolish the Mignard skyscraper, stigmatised for its dated 1960s appearance, and replace it with a newer, smaller building with better services and stronger architectural style?
In a city like Nantes, this is a question worth asking. The city is home to some noted architectural feats, including the Sillon de Bretagne (one of the largest high rise buildings in Europe), the Malakoff stadium and Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse. Yet, with a strong need for social housing, TETRARC was challenged to redesign and implement a new social program for the city that would reflect the history and progress of the past four decades.
As the city slowly centre began to redevelop and expand, habitats of social housing territories were pushed to the urban perimeters. Dervallières was one of the neighbourhoods to accept the city’s displaced low-income and vagabond peoples and the effect has clearly lasted: today it has 5,200 inhabitants and only 2,400 homes. TETRARC’S goal was to rewrite the script of social housing, seeking to renew the concept and add sustainable development to the program.
To do this the architects needed to reinvent in modern society the notion of government-funded or social housing, especially in a dense habitat. As models they would look to architects responsible for Dutch, Scandinavian and German housing, like Ernst May in Frankfurt, at the turn of the 1930’s. The aim was to use innovative materials and forms to reflect sustainable development in the planning, as well as to provide the residents with necessary elements to increase quality of life, both interior and exterior (such as the greenhouses, park and garden).
TETRARC have substituted the demolished skyscraper with a contemporary architectural structure. In total it has 39 units of accommodation, ultimately joined in a continuous volume yet divided into 11 vertical units that are differentiated by exterior façade colour (in various shades of pink). Each unit is positioned at a 21 degree angle so as to differentiate it from its neighbouring block. The structure offers residents two options: rented accommodation and housing (duplex-style) for ownership at a reduced fee.
Outside, greenhouses are available to every resident, fostering a positive sense of ecological awareness. This communal garden space also lends to sense of community amongst habitants, while also encouraging family activity and an alternative leisure activity for people in a socially underprivileged area.