Romeo and Juliette

Department: Architecture
Author: Nasrine Seraji

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Romeo and Juliette is a mixed public and private housing project that demonstrates the capacity of architecture to invent new ways of living, even with high structural, economical, urban, and environmental constraints.

In 2006 an open competition was launched by the housing agency Ophis du Puy de Dôme.

Proposals for 65 public housing units and 74 private units were submitted to the competition.  Following the jury’s analysis (90 teams first phase, 5 teams final phase) two teams were selected to work on the project, including one local team to work on the social housing and our practice to work on the private housing.  However, this changed in the course of the project and we worked on a 50-50% mix of social and private housing.

  • The project tackles important, discipline-specific issues including: Economy and cost effectiveness – Repetition and economical construction
  • Material and structural research — How can solid brick, an ancient material with a high capacity to adapt to contemporary qualities such as insulation and aesthetics, be reintroduced to a culture of building where the construction industry habitually uses concrete and finishes the façade with cheap veneer materials.
  • Seismic constraints and the role of structure as an architectural elastic stabiliser.
  • Architecture as “urban connector” enabling the accessibility of the site and its environs.
  • Architecture cannot be exclusive.  Architecture is a right and not a privilege.
  • The seismicity of this region specifically this site with a steep gradient can be successfully integrated in the design process and be an element of architecture.
  • The rigor of economic and environmentally friendly solutions does not prohibit the notion of offering real quality of life to the inhabitants.
  • Naturally ventilated car parks on street level are possible without degrading the streetscape.
Enlarge Photo: Romeo and Juliette 1