A housing and service complex
Quartier La Duchère, Lyon, Rhône, France

Block 32 occupies a strategic position in the vast programme to renovate the Duchère neighbourhood, in Lyon. The OPAC du Rhône housing association has produced a building which incorporates 33 social rental housing units, 1,500m2 of office space dedicated to health-related activities, and has retail space throughout the ground floor. Its central location, at the crossroads between the new Abbé Pierre square and the east / west boulevard,means it is highly visible and its proximity to the athletics hall imposes the need for a resoundingly urban attitude.
Following on from the architects’ work on the Mozart urban development zone in Saint-Priest, the intention was to meet the new challenges of the urban environment, promote the use of wood as a material and show that urban living can be pleasurable and fun.

A resoundingly urban attitude

Various factors relating to the site and the urban planning specifications mean this project has to strike an affirmatively urban posture. The proximity of the athletics hall1 is the main determining factor as the north facade of the housing block is less than 7 metres from the south facade of the sports facility. The scale and unusual shape of the hall make it a benevolent, but demanding neighbour. The focus was placed on developing the links between the new building and the sports facility. To the east, the steps of the square absorb the significant difference in height. To the west the communal garden, suspended above the shops, occupies the gap between the two buildings. Block 32 acts as an urban facade, preserving the alignment along the road and marking the angles to the east and the west. This form is accentuated by the height of the building, with eight floors for the housing block and six floors for the office space creating a high-density ensemble. The shape of the plot of land is ideal for construction and offers advantageous north and south aspects. The significant height difference from east to west is absorbed by the unifying base that forms a pedestal for the project.

Mixed-use programme

The programme, which adopts the now standard mixed-use approach, is itself an urban microcosm. The two basement floors offer 57 parking spaces. There is 972 m2 of retail space on the ground floor which constitutes the shared base for the 33 housing association flats and the 1,500 m2 medical centre. In terms of style, the different components form a whole, a complete architectural work within which each of the different programmes remains distinct. The domesticity of the housing block is complemented by the more abstract design of the office block, while the retail space opens up readily onto the surrounding public spaces.

Mixed construction

The construction systems used are also mixed, with materials used where they offer the best possible performance. The main structure is concrete. The facades are composed of a wooden frame. The concrete was used for its structural and acoustic qualities. The wood was chosen first and foremost for its qualities as a material, but also for the way it could be used in the prefabrication of the components that make up the facade. Two factors made it a particularly suitable material for this project. Wood compound walls offer the same level of performance at a reduced thickness compared to concrete compound walls. Across the seven floors of housing this frees up the equivalent of 60 m2 of living space. The use of prefabricated components also meant the building work could be carried out quickly and safely on a site with very specific constraints, notably due to the close proximity to the athletics hall.

A slender building / dense facades

The housing block is deliberately slender, the depth of living space measures just 8 metres plus the balconies on the south facade, and with the addition of the external hallways on the north facade. This allows all the apartments to benefit from a dual north and south aspect, as each unit runs fully from one side of the building to the other.

A housing and service complex, Quartier La Duchère, Lyon, Rhône, France

33 units of social housing, along with offices and shops
2,840 m2 of housing
2,250 m2 of offices and shops
6.5 M.€HT
OPAC du Rhône
Quadriplus, Etamine Environnement
Environmental approach
BBC RT 2005

/ Press Release 1.86 MB