COMBined Process

München (DE) – Runner-up


Team Representative: Rémi Vilarinho (FR) – architect; Associates: Antoine Fouchier (FR) – engineer-architect; Aurélien Masson (FR) – architect urban planner

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R. Vilarinho, A. Masson and A. Fouchier



1. How did you form the team for the competition?

Rémi and Aurélien met at the “École Nationale d’Architecture de Val-de-Seine”; they followed a large part of their university studies together and graduated in 2011. Multidisciplinarity was already their founding principle. Aurélien was interested in the potential synergies between urban design and the architectural project while Rémi studied modularity and construction and was influenced by the School of Porto, where he studied for some time.
After graduation, Aurélien goes on and studies at the “École d’Architecture de la ville et des territories de Marne-la-Vallée” to become an architect-urban planner in 2013. In the meantime, Rémi attends the classes at the “Centre National des Arts et Métiers” to study construction further.
The Europan 12 competition was the opportunity for Antoine to join Rémi and Aurélien and create a multidisciplinary team. Antoine graduated from the “École Polytechnique” as an engineer and holds a double degree as an engineer-architect in both “École d’architecture de la ville et des territories de Marne-la-Vallée” and “École des Ponts et Chaussées ».
The goal now is simple: comparing the wealth of perspectives from the first sketches on. We believe we can bring appropriate answers to increasingly complex questions in an increasingly diverse and fast-paced world.


2. How do you define the main issue of your project, insisting on how you answered on this session main topic: adaptability and urban rhythms?

The issue set by the social landlord –owner of the existing buildings– is relatively simple: How to increase the density of the area while insulating it from the noise pollution coming from the boulevard?
Densification embodies one of the possible changes in the city since it can be adapted to a certain context –of growth for instance. Considering the program and area scales, we decided to question densification through the typologies of the buildings to renovate. Our thoughts turned to the search of a typology that can adapt to change in programs, populations and uses. Thus, our problem could be formulated as follows: How to introduce urban flexibility through architectural typology? We considered our answer while looking for the “evidence" of the site.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

This “evidence” that we had to strengthen was for us the presence of three buildings, perpendicular to the boulevard and ideally oriented.
Above all, the adaptability of the plot had to be realized through blocking noise pollution from the boulevard without affecting the sunny gardens. Studying the type of noises along the boulevard and their intensity, we opted for the principle of an at least 6-meter-high noise barrier.
Still, the response to noise cannot only be considered with an “insulation trick”. It also has to consider the source. In the long term, we believe the boulevard might be reduced from 2 to 1 lane, a way to encourage traffic reduction, which we consider inevitable. This operation will free building land and establish a new step for densification.
The typology of buildings to set along the boulevard therefore blocks the sound and preserves the sunny gardens. It offers the opportunity to expand –in the longer term– the building land freed by the reduction of the boulevard and to arrange housing oriented to the South and to the noise-insulated gardens.
We also believed that adaptability had to be integrated during the work phases and should not interfere with the inhabitants’ lives. We therefore proposed a phasing of intervention to limit the impact and inconvenience. Residents are rehoused in the new apartments before the renovation of the existing buildings.


4. Have you already treated this issue previously and could you present some reference projects that inspired yours?

Our team never dealt with this issue before. Nevertheless, each of us approached it individually in some of our previous projects.
In his final study project, Rémi studied the way to overcome limits by building along the Parisian ring road. He particularly followed the reflections of the Tomato working group and the TVK architects-urbanists agency. Among other things, he raised the questions of noise insulation and building facing a road infrastructure.
Aurélien had the opportunity to handle the issues of resizing road infrastructures and valorization of building lands in projects he did during his studies as an architect-urban planner. He had the opportunity to follow Yves Lion’s classes and to study, among other things, his project for the N7 national road redevelopment in Evry (FR). "The East Ridge, an adaptable city" –one of the requalification projects he led– was exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012.
Antoine studied the issues of renovation in Aulnay-sous-Bois (FR) at the heart of the problem of the “grands ensembles” (“major blocks”) and the “East Ridge” exhibited in Venice. He studied the rehabilitation of these blocks as the introduction of a more comfortable life, of new patterns and rhythms and of implants on the existing buildings to adapt them without turning them upside down.
In addition, we chose the Eduardo Souto de Moura’s Maia Building as a reference to handle the issues of modularity.


5. Today –within the era of an economic crisis and sustainability– the urban-architectural project should reconsider its production method in time; how did you integrate this issue in your project?

We do not believe that we can bring a solution to urban change, which remains unpredictable and uncertain in essence. The project must therefore anticipate and propose possible arrangements to answer the issues, while not questioning their presence and structure, which have to resist time. The project also has to consider a phasing allowing a spread in time, trying to have the least possible impact on life in the block and allowing schedule adaptation according to the budgetary or political constraints.


6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

This is the first time we have participated to Europan and have been awarded a prize. This award encourages us and reinforces our multidisciplinary approach. We want to continue and deepen our vision and principles by applying them to other competitions and projects. Thanks to the fame of this award, we want to settle the legitimacy of our young team, which we now wish to expand to other specialties and skills.