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22 February 2023 Comments (0) Architecture, Culture, Other, Real Estate

Paris transforms two administration buildings into virtuous housing

As emblems of brutalist architecture and the district’s industrial past, numbers 58 and 66 in Rue de Mouzaïa, in the nineteenth neighbourhood of the French capital, are being transformed into sustainable and affordable housing. 

The renovation of numbers 58 and 66 Rue de Mouzaïa is one of the first projects to have benefited from the Duflot law, designed to transform buildings belonging to the public authorities into social housing.

A rare relic of brutalism

Located in Belleville, Rue de Mouzaïa is located on the site of a former gypsum quarry. Originally, number 66 housed a sewing machine factory. In the early 1970s, the Ministry of Health moved in with DRASS (Regional Office for Health and Social Affairs) for Île-de-France. The ministry also decided to include number 58 in the project and entrusted the work to the architects Claude Parent and André Remondet, who decided to make it a “brutalist” building. Featuring concrete facades, sometimes smooth, sometimes serrated and with protruding surfaces known by architects as “mammoth teeth”, with rounded vertical turrets… the building is a typical example of this architectural trend from the twentieth century.

Street art, history and social inclusion

Ever since the departure of DRASS in 2010, number 58 has been home to BLOC, a group of 150 artists who play an important role in defending the right to housing. Some of these artists have become prominent figures in French and international street art. Their frescoes, paintings and tags bear historical and artistic witness to the location’s recent history, and many have been preserved during the renovation. Bought by the RIVP (Real Estate Office for the City of Paris) in 2015, this building then underwent a full renovation in an effort to transform its 11,000 m² into housing. The architectural firm Canal is developing 103 university accommodation units and 65 housing units for young workers (individual or shared accommodation), 14 artist studios and 90 co-working spaces. Number 66 has also been completely renovated and continues to house a 126-bed Salvation Army emergency accommodation centre. 

Fresque de Catherine Val

Fresco of Catherine Val

The presence of artists in the new studios forms a link between the past and present of Rue de Mouzaïa. Furthermore, the alchemy between its architecture, its artistic works and the diversity of its occupants and uses gives this living space an inclusive nature and the whole project a unique identity, highlighted in the symbolic wall painting by Catherine Val, located on the ground floor of number 58. By capturing the attention of passers-by, she creates a bridge between the street and the building, rooting it even more in its environment. It is an undoubted success, which is recognised by the “Remarkable Contemporary Architecture” award presented by the Regional Commission of Heritage and Architecture.

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