How can one increase the density and enhance the quality of the urban landscape at the same time?
At the top of the Belleville area, the old playground of a social housing building is now occupied by a strange object – half garden, half spaceship. The folded brass membrane is currently still shiny, but it will be soon covered by a grass-coloured patina and the west façade will match the vegetal roof even better. Its purpose is as anursery, but for the neighbours it is a piece of landscape, built to become even more attractive day after day.
Could a landlocked field appear to be open if we look it from the right side?
The nursery is not visible from the street. A porch roof marks the entry, which leads visitors through a gallery below the buildings on the street. Once the children are inside, they forget about the wall of buildings they just passed as they are standing on a space open to the exterior playground. The nursery stretches across one single storey, with a line of boxes. On this side, the façade is no longer mysterious and the functions of these boxes are easily recognisable by the children: a bathroom, a dressing area.
Do the green aspects of a building have to be exposed to the people?
A compact shape, very good natural lighting, an efficient covering, good air circulation and a careful selection of materials ensure the basics. The additional qualities are barely visible. Some are hidden technical features like the motorised windows or the damp-proof layer that keeps the building dry. The other ecological advantage of the building involves the clever approach to the site. The building is set on an existing car park and the structure in the form of a kit was delivered through a sort of underground gallery. This light structure avoids reinforcing the current infrastructure. It is no longer visible nowadays, but it saved a lot of money and energy. The green rooftop is more iconic and it communicates some little-known issues such as storm water, inertia, sprinkling and the urban ‚heat island‘ effect. Last but not least, it is a successful reminder of the strong and ancient link between nature and architecture, which at the same time creates beauty.