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Renée Gailhoustet

  • Tour Raspail, 203 logements, 1966
  • Coupe sur noyau central côté cour de service, éch. 1:50
  • Drawing
  • Encre, crayon graphite et zip sur calque
  • 63.6 x 66.7 cm
  • Donation Renée Gailhoustet
  • 999 115 053

Tours Raspail et Lenine, Ivry-sur-Seine, 1963-1968

Gailhoustet’s Raspail and Lénine towers, built in 1968 and 1970, were the first markers of the ambitious urban renewal program for the town center of Ivry-sur-Seine led by the Office Public HLM (Public Housing Authority). The insertion of towers into the fabric of a town comprised mainly of smaller suburban structures, slated for demolition, testifies to the project’s grandeur: social housing is raised to the rank of monument, like the nearby post-war, bar-shaped Maurice Thorez housing block. Positioned facing the town hall, containing approximately a hundred housing units each, Gailhoustet’s buildings stand out from her earlier projects for the Office, whose outlines were closer to Parisian HBMs (low-cost housing). Here, the architect borrowed more from the Unité d’Habitation de Marseille (Le Corbusier, 1953), itself inspired by the Narkomfin building in Moscow (Guinzburg, Milinis, 1929). The design of the Raspail is the more successful of the two towers. In addition to the shops on the ground level, the apartments benefit from communal services on each floor: a laundry room, playrooms for children – two functions which have now disappeared – as well as a roof terrace all reinvent the Soviet “Dom-Kommuna”. The effect of stacking the housing units on 18 floors is lessened by their organization into duplexes. Gailhoustet was inspired by the experimental work of the Candilis/Josic/Woods team, and in particular the semi-duplex apartment building (1952). However, for her, it was not a question of repeating a standard “cell,” as her tower had to offer several types of apartments. Their design was an ingenious vertical interlocking system of layouts. A first in multi-unit housing in France at the time, the semi-duplex at Raspail offered the possibility of opening the living areas and kitchen on to those of the entrance and the bedroom landing. Extended further by loggia, the apartment is no longer a series of rooms but a volume filled with light in which multiple perspectives develop.

Bénédicte Chaljub

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