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© 2020 by radioarchitettura

ARCHIPELIA, Social Centre

Paris, France - 2019 - Photography: Schnepp Renou

The Archipélia social centre is located in the heart of the 20th arrondissement in Paris. Since 2001 Archipélia has occupied the premises, that initially housed a supermarket on the ground floor and a technical basement serving social housing units above. The building is the property of Paris Habitat and was built in the late 1970s. The social centre was initiated by a collective of inhabitants who wanted to support teenagers and families in their daily concerns but also to offer a place of meetings and activities. Archipélia is an important place in the life of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood but it suffers from a lack of visibility and cramped spaces. Spaces that are not adapted to the rich variation of educational, cultural and leisure activities that the centre offers.

The project to renovate and extend Archipélia was initiated by Paris Habitat, the Association and their partners and is an opportunity to offer more visibility to the centre, and spaces adapted to it's activities.

After a detailed diagnosis of the existing spaces, an analysis of the users need, the interior transformation consisted in the rationalisation of the circulation hitherto labyrinthine. This spatial work was accompanied by extensive work on signage in order to facilitate user orientation. At the same time, the creation of a bright reception area with a central staircase made it possible to understand the centre in its entirety from the entrance. This central space with its double height void also allowed to bring natural light to the spaces located in the basement

The renovated classrooms provide comfort in terms of sound, light and use. Each room adapts to the main activity it hosts, but remains flexible to accommodate other activities according to the needs of the association. The multipurpose room on the ground floor, has a kitchen area allowing the organisation of events and moments of conviviality with the inhabitants.

The new facade is generously glazed and it provides maximum natural light inside while preserving the privacy of users and employees by using translucent glazing in certain places. The facade responds to the need for visibility and identification of the centre with its strong vertical rhythm, slender and uniform language that is easily identifiable in the street.

Notre Dame du Port

Clermont-Ferrand, France - ongoing

Notre-Dame-du-Port in Clermont Ferrand is a magnificent Romanesque basilica listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. The project aims to preserve and enhance the basilica and its surroundings, through a renovation of the square in front of the basilica, its immediate surroundings, as well as the rehabilitation and conversion of three adjoining buildings to create a visitor center.

More than a simple enhancement, the concept is a mise-en-scène of the building on an urban level which is sought through a fine intervention on its environment. Rue du Port is extended into a belvedere-terrace overlooking the forecourt of the basilica and the Calvary. A new staircase allow access from the street to the forecourt. A flexible space generously opens up to the forecourt, it can serve as an extension of the interpretation center but also as a shelter for outdoor events. 

On the ground, a carpet of cobblestones is woven, inspired by the rhomboid mosaic of the basilica's chevet. The interpretation Centre completes the urban scenography of the basilica site. The appearance of the facade facing the street is maintained, while the facade overlooking the basilica have three generous windows offering views onto the details of the basilica’s facade.  Through these windows the basilica itself becomes part of the scenography of the visitor Centre’s. 

Dar Mim

Hamamet, Tunisia - 2014 Photography: Sophia Baraket

Renovation and extension of a traditional courtyard house in the historic heart of the city Hammamet, on the Tunisian coast.

The intention was to maintain the alternating solids and voids that is distinctive for the patio house typology and to preserve the unique elements of the existing house such as the entrance court, the central patio and the vaults. 


This house was originally part of a larger traditional courtyard house. A central courtyard was the common space for an extended family, functioning like a shared living area. Each side of the courtyard was a private suite for each family. 

Additionally, a small patio served as a buffer zone between the entrance to the house and the street. This courtyard house was later divided through inheritance proceeding, and all parts except for one were demolished and replaced by dense collective housing buildings.

The only preserved part was the central one containing the original courtyard, a small patio aside the street, and two housing volumes on each side of the courtyard.

These remaining parts of the old courtyard house were transformed several times but retained an alternation of solids and voids that provides light and natural ventilation. 

The aim of our proposal was to maintain the two courtyards and organize the main living functions around them, and also to create a multitude of horizontal and vertical connections - spatial and visual. 

In order to give more room for the client without making obstruction of the patio, we proposed a vertical extension. A two-level extension, aligned in height with the adjacent buildings, overlooking the street. This added volume hosts the guests living area and reveals the presence of a house hitherto invisible from the street.

It has its own independent terrace that is accessible from an exterior stair. The core of the house is apprehensive from the studio terrace, and a visual connection is established. 

The inhabitants can interact between the different spaces and levels of the house, layers of 

verticality and new visuals connections are created.

We aimed to use only local materials and know-how. All woodwork and metalwork are custom made by local artisans. All exterior surfaces are treated in the same way in order to unify the exterior spaces, all in white. The use of plaster and lime paint on all exterior walls using traditional techniques relates to history and climate, highlighting the relation between light and shadow. The floors are in concrete that is left raw in the living room, waxed in the bedrooms and white-washed in the two courtyards. 


DAR MIM was preselected for the Aga Khan award 2016.