graham brenton mckay
A Better Building
André Devin's Cité Frais Vallon configuration of four double-sided apartments accessed from stacked stairs on both sides of a single corridor every three floors is a brilliant solution that has all living rooms on the same side of the building. As with all plans of this type, the problem is how to use the necessary space required to cross over or under the corridor.
This project followed on from an investigation into double-sided apartments and was an attempt to see if the configuration could be improved upon. It could be, but the nature of the project changed.
The building volume "saved" by only having one corridor per three floors has been externalized to become a type of communal space mostly appreciated from inside the apartments by virtue of
1) small kitchen windows and staircase windows overlooking the triple-height space of the access level
2) high bathroom windows opening onto this same space and
3) the internal passageway that is a bridge overlooking the triple-height space of the access corridor on one side, with a small balcony (for laundry drying?) overlooking the access level on the other side.
The access corridor that was previously a dark, airless and unsocial space can now have natural light and ventilation and offer a two-way awareness of the inner life of the building.