The atelier Stéphane Fernandez recently delivered two housing projects in the south of France. In Marseille, at the entrance to the new Euroméditerranée district, the limestone Sens student residence with its 84 apartments provides a context that is both intimate and turned toward the landscape.
The city block upon which Sens stands is exceptional for its position at the gateway to the historic city and the new Parc Urbain d’Euroméditerranée, anchor point between landscape and city. It forms the juncture between the city, its hills and its new park, now a landmark in its stratified ancient urban fabric and echoing this heterogeneous historic cityscape.
In this context, the project of social housing for students poses the question of intimacy. Nestled behind stone, thin windows with broad embrasures allow the sun to shine in all day. Thus, the window allows light to penetrate the entire apartment through the quality of thickens of the design.
The building becomes the medium for the new entrance to the park and the urban staircase guiding us toward the Fernand Pouillon Library. Here, the building repeats the notion of limit between the intimacy of home and shared urban space by using time and social exchange. The massive stone and the questioning of the window are the strongest expression of this. The city block of the Sens explores Marseille’s ancient history, light, energy and patina to reveal its material. It yields to the silence of a rediscovered landscape and a pacified entrance to Marseille, melding with its history.
It includes 84 units of social housing for students, an apartment for the guardian, a multipurpose hall, central distribution by means of a double spiral staircase, beveled windows (intimacy of the home) and façade clad in semi-massive limestone and white concrete.
The public space arranged above and below, directly tying together the entrance to the Parc Urbain d’Euroméditerranée, serves as an urban link with the installation of public elevator as part of the building.