PietriArchitectes is delivering a residential project for the eco neighborhood of Massy located in the department of Essonne, a department in the southern part of the Île-de-France region in Northern France, 14.7 kilometres from the center of Paris.

As part of an urban complex designed by , this project, called The Sequoias, has the particularity of establishing itself in an environment rich in biodiversity.

The Vilgénis estate includes a large 30 ha landscaped park, a castle as well as several listed outbuildings and a set of Air France business buildings making up a total surface area of 60 ha. Following the decision to relocate most of its activities, Air France considered the sale of more than 40 ha of this site. 17 ha of this has been allocated for the future Vilgénis district.

The project establishes a continuity with the forest and the vast ecological corridor stretching along the Bièvre Valley. The design exploits the diversity of the forest, understanding and using its dynamics, qualities, characteristics, management methods and growth as a resource for the development of outdoor spaces.

Image: Baseland

For that reason, the architectural drawing was oriented towards the conservation and the preservation of the natural environment. Although both buildings are quite different from one another, they are also very similar in terms of colors, as well as through the way they tend to fit into the environment, which is a highly valued consideration by PietriArchitectes in their projects.

The project is situated in the district of Vilgénis, located in the Northwest part of the city. The site includes a natural park of more than 20 hectares, as well as a castle and other classified monuments.

The sector has been converted into a new residential area and an accessible public space in the forest. The entire site is accessible to the inhabitants in order to promote a spirit of “living together” while honoring and respecting biodiversity and the site's natural heritage.

The redevelopment project was carried out by Leclercq Associés, recognized for their transversal approach between urban planning, architecture, and landscape. Located in front of the park, the urban program takes part in the landscape by preserving the visual perspectives and maintaining the biodiversity of the site.

The residential homes were designed by architects with various backgrounds, including KOZ Architectes, Itar Architectes, and Ameller Dubois, who successfully fulfilled the environmental requirements. The role of PietriArchitectes takes hold within the global strategy, and with the design of two buildings fitted to the context.

The studio's project involves a 76-unit program, divided into two separate volumes. The complex is articulated around a garden, preserving several remarkable trees, and proposes two different architectural identities.

The first building is cubic and monolithic, and offers overlapping duplex apartments. On the North side, the brick façade, perforated by discreet windows, provides privacy to the dwellings. On the garden side, generous balconies made from raw concrete appear like an exoskeleton. The second building is composed of apartments arranged in layers organized according to the topography, enabling them to benefit from favorable solar orientation. Each apartment also has a generous terrace or loggia.

The first intention was to bring a certain softness to the operation, but also to respect its environment. The design of the two buildings was also conceived with the idea of preserving existing trees on the site and, in particular, a spectacular black pine.

The two buildings play with identical materials and similar hues: beige brick, a light-stained plaster, Japanese-style burnt wood, and precast concrete. The burnt wood is derived from an ancestral Japanese method and is an eco-responsible material obtained from the plant biomass.

Furthermore, its dark color echoes the majestic black pine of the site. The entire project features dark wood carpentry that highlights the design of the openings of each building. Despite a humid environment linked to the presence of the forest, the materials used are noble and sustainable, and they respond to a desire for sustainability and complete harmony.

Both buildings are bordered by a new road and a pedestrian path connecting the park and the inhabited forest. The ground floor provides access to a semi-buried parking area, thus reducing the noise and visual nuisances induced by cars.

The parking are is topped by the garden, with its construction benefiting from the topography to prevent a deep dig into the earth. The project also adapts itself to the needs of tomorrow by offering more than a hundred bicycle parking spots. To respond to the sustainable ambition, all the roofs are vegetated and coupled to a rainwater retention device. The height of the West and East buildings is adapted to the conserved trees and topography of the site.

The aim of PietriArchitectes is to put the forest at the heart of the project, with a desire to conserve the existing vegetation. In fact, each tree torn down during the construction site was replanted, with new plantations developed to preserve the identity of the site. To offset the relative density of the park, the building volumetrics create visual breakthroughs that provide ventilation to the space, while offering a garden that is open to the neighbourhood.

The two residential buildings in the eco neighborhood of Massy developed by PietriArchitectes offer a high quality of life, with quality public spaces for its inhabitants.

This includes a shopping square at the South entrance, and an adventure area for children and their families to promote discovery of nature as seen in Scandinavia. The site offers also a City Stadium, as well as a quiet area accessible to all inhabitants with the presence of facilities and a natural area designed to preserve biodiversity.

Through The Sequoias, PietriArchitectes is convinced that architectural research can still provide solutions to achieve quality housing that is environmentally respectful, thus enabling a true “living together” environment.

Technical sheet

Project: 76 housing units
Client: Vinci Immobilier
Area: 5 427 m² SDP
Cost: 7,5 M€ HT
Completion: 2022
Environmental Certifications: RT2012/ NF Habitat/ HQE: High performing level
Landscape designer: Baseland

Photography: Hugo Hébrard