Brick is making a comeback. The green-roofed House for Solidarity is wrapped in an intricate brick pattern that references the workshop tradition of Beauvais, in the North of France. French architecture studio Ellenamehl created the weaving diamond-like brick facade by overlapping and overhanging each of the 38,000 bricks in seven different ways. They used 3D models and parametric tools, proving the compatibility between new digital tools and traditional building materials.
The house is located at the center of the Saint-Jean district, on the high plains of Beauvais, where an Angel military base once stood. This military site was erected after the 1870 war and has been abandoned since 1993. The city officials initiated a renewal project in order to open up the area to the city and reduce social problems. The House for Solidarity, in line with the revitalization philosophy, was designed and built as a step toward pacifying and diversifying the area. The public ground floor of the building welcomes visitors with a wide reception counter and provides access to the garden patio, meeting rooms and a mother and child care area, while the first floor houses the social workers’ offices.
The choice of brick as cladding material references the surrounding architecture, and thanks to the playful patterns and unusual use of brick, the architects managed to create a project that distinguishes itself from nearby housing. Dressed in brick, the building creates a subtle motion which alludes to the tapestry workshop and secular knowledge traditions of Beauvais. The inflection of the first floor walls create the movement that diverges from the center and goes backwards. Individually designed bricks were combined using in-house parametric tools which allowed the creation of the weaving pattern.
Photos by Hervé Ellena and Philippe Caron