Perimeter block, courtyardPerimeter block, infillRow house
Etienne-Dolet, Housing for Postal Workers
Brenac, Oliver & Xavier Gonzales | Paris, France | 1991-93
Image of Etienne-Do...
View along rue Etienne-Dolet. The step-back marks the building entrance and adjusts the misalignment of the street facades.

ProjectEtienne-Dolet, Housing for Postal Workers
ArchitectBrenac, Oliver & Xavier Gonzales
Address11, rue Etinne-Dolet (20th)
Building TypePerimeter block, courtyard
Perimeter block, infill
Row house
Number of Dwellings40
Date Built1991-93
Dwelling Typesflats
No. Floors5
Section Typeflats w/separate access for rear
Exterior Finish
stone, glass, steel
Construction TypeR-C frame
Ancillary Servicespost office at street

This is a complex infill situation near the church of Notre-Dame-de-a-Croix that was built as part of the 1989 government program to provide better housing for Post Office workers. In keeping with other examples of this program, difficult sites are typical and the emphasis has been to create new housing opportunities in transitional neighborhoods. A further emphasis of the program has been to try to create a new image of housing which is responsive to contextual conditions while providing a more articulated differentiation of the individual apartment. Each of these projects is also the site of a neighborhood Post Office which has been integrated into the building design.

The site here was the gap between an older group of 5 story infill buildings at one end of a long narrow perimeter block and a zone of 8 story apartment of the 1960's at the other. The old buildings fronted fronted the sidewalk, but the modernist apartments were stepped back so that the street facade was obviously misaligned. The challenge for the architects was to re-align the mismatched buildings along rue Etienne-Dolet and develop a strategy for changing the building volume from 5 to 8 stories along the street to the north, rue des Maronites This was accomplished by attaching a 5 story block to the existing party wall along Etienne-Dolet which continues the existing facades in volume and detail. A second element aligns with both the setback and height of the 60's block. These two elements share a central stair and elevator. Part of the street surface of the lower element extends to the edge of the 60's party wall thus defining a propylea and a small plaza which marks the entrance to the apartments and the Post Office which occupies the lower two floors of the 5 story block. While the details and materials of the new building are different, the use of both light and dark stone successfully continues the spirit of both old and new existing buildings.

The massing on the north side of the block is also the result of a strategy to realign 5 and 8 story elements. Here a freestanding block 5 stories high attaches
to the party wall of the existing row of buildings along rue des Maronites. This block
is entered either from rue Etienne-Dolet or from rue des Maronites via stairs to an upper plaza level. The 8 story block extends through the block to align with the north wall of the 60's slab. The separation between the taller and lower elements forms the upper plaza space with provides a pleasant outlook for the apartments above and is a successful strategy to admit light to the interior of the block. A large skylight on the plaza admits light to the Post Office below and there are also large windows which light the upper part of the volume of the Post Office. The combination of light and dark stone again establishes a formal connection between old and new on the north facade.

Gleiniger, Andrea, Gerhard Matzig, Sebastian Redecke, Paris Contemporary Architecture, Verlag Prestel, Munich, 1997, pp. 154-59

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