What's green and yellow and then even more green (as in sustainable) all over? Well, since you're looking at a picture of it we're guessing you were able to surmise that it's Koz Architecture's newest project - 28 colorful and airy social housing units for Courbevoie, France. The multi-hued complex was designed as a denser alternative to the widely spaced-out private homes of suburbia that would still allow occupants to feel a sense of ownership, individuality and escape from the hectic city. Aside from being bright and cheery (there is ample daylighting in all rooms including the bathrooms), the apartments offer a rainwater collection system, a green roof and loggias for residents to use as their own private greenhouse.
The complex was originally conceived in response to Groupe 3F’s competition to design a residential complex that redefines single family social housing units on high density sites. KOZ started out on their proposal by first identifying the four main things – high user quality, walk-around accessibility, individuality and interaction with neighbors – that they felt were essential qualities of a single-family residence, and then set out to adapt them to an apartment building.
In terms of high user quality, the fact that the complex is actually two buildings rather than one allowed for an increase in the surface area of the facades, making each home more like a single-family house. KOZ incorporated a bonus room (shaped like a white cantilevered cube placed at random on the façade) into every residence, giving each household even more flexibility and space. Every apartment faces outwards in three directions and every room has access to daylighting.
KOZ really wanted each residence to have that “walk-around accessibility” that houses in the suburbs have so they created individual walkways that actually wind around the apartments. Each walkway is fully accessible from the main rooms so that the dwellers can actually walk all the way around their home. Plus, each “house” is hidden behind the forest of green rebars giving an airy feeling.
Last but not least, KOZ wanted to impart individuality and a feeling of neighborhood to the complex. In order to make each dwelling distinguishable from the others, KOZ designed them to all have different silhouettes. And while being friendly and interacting with fellow residents is usually a lot less common in apartment buildings, the layout of this complex actually encourages being social. Since each landing is quite large and serves only two residences, it’s the perfect spot to talk about what your kids are doing in school or who is dating who.