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Reaching for the sky: Paris inaugurates its first residential tower since the 1970s

Mayor Anne Hidalgo has inaugurated a 50m-high block tower, the first residential high-rise to be built in Paris since 1975.  It’s completion is a strong symbolic statement that it is now possible to build to ‘greater heights’ in the capital.

The limits on building height is a contentious matter in normally low-rise Paris. But given the city’s challenge to solve pressing residential housing needs, the Paris advisory counsel amended urban planning regulations for the Masséna- Bruneseau sector in Paris’ southeastern 13th arrondissement. The amendment, passed in November 2011, allowed for residential towers measuring up to 50-meters tall, and office blocks measuring up to 180-meters tall, what marked a significant change in to prior restrictions. The move also sent out the message that taller buildings are back on the menu in Paris as a whole.

Conceived by architects Hamonic+Masson et Comte Vollenweider and built by Bouygues Immobilier, the “Home” tower breaks up the rather “boxy” look of the Avenue de France with a stacked structure that includes 92 social housing rental units and 96 units under the ownership social incentive scheme accession à la propriété. The buildings sit atop a common base with shops, a restaurant (with a Michelin star chef) and a baker, all surrounding a central garden. The total area assigned to private homes is 6000 m²; 400 m² is designated commercial space.

Delivery of the first units started as early as February this year, leading up to the June 5th inauguration ceremony.The private apartments already sold, at varying prices around €9000/m2.

Jérôme Coumet, maire of the 13th arrondissement tweeted an image of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, saying that what he will “remember most from the inauguration are the enthusiastic words from the new owners and tenants”:

Architectural firm Hamonic+Masson explains that the concept for their design was inspired by city dwellers who aspire to live in “suburban-style” individual homes: housing that is more customizable than the usual urban apartment and enjoys the added benefit of outdoor dining and living. Meeting that objective within the constraints of an apartment building in a dense urban environment meant that the architects emphasized the individual identity of each apartment through different layouts and multiple private exterior spaces, and provided for common areas that promote social interaction between the residents.

Photo by courtesy of Hamonic + Masson ©Takuji Shimmura & Milène Servelle

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