The transformation of a former print-works

At the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, PCA-STREAM is carrying out a heavy restructuring operation that illustrates its transformative architecture approach and aims to upgrade an exceptional but diverse housing complex. The premises of this former print-works hosts a mixed programme whose uses have been structured around a luminous, tree lined patio.

A patrimony to be enhanced

19, rue des Saints-Pères, in the 6th district of Paris, had, since the end of the 18th century, been home to the Grou-Radenez print-works. One of the first residential buildings with a courtyard from the 18th century, transformed according to industrial needs, was notably completed at the end of the 19th century by a three-storey studio made from metal structures similar to those of the Eiffel Tower, typical of architecture in Paris in the early 20th century. Its activity continued up until 1999, despite the state of disrepair of the installations, increasingly at odds with the evolution of the rest of the neighborhood. The firm was bought by a printer who transferred the activity to the outskirts of Paris and began the work of transforming this remarkable patrimony. The successive modifications nonetheless resulted in a space that was extremely dense and confused, with its transformation involving a certain amount of heavy restructuring.

An architecture of transformation

Right in the middle of the Latin Quarter, overlooking the School of Fine Arts, the building and courtyard solicit a certain revalorization worthy of their context. This project reflects the research done by PCA-STREAM on transformational architecture within a dense urban fabric. New uses and global issues do indeed push towards an increasingly rapid obsolescence of our built environment, notably due to norms and standards. It is thus caught between a logic of heritage preservation and the imperative to evolve. Its revalorisation thus proceeds through this type of rehabilitation or reconversion, complex to design and manage on both administrative and technical levels, and also on architectural and economic levels. Transformational architecture is a fantastic field of development for PCA-STREAM, which sees it as a lever for urban development. Above all it allows us to design different and exceptional places, similar to the new spaces created by this rehabilitation.

A diverse and luminous programme

The composite organisation of the space motivated PCA-STREAM to implement a programme that combined a number of functions. The restructuring of the 1,500m2 was thus done to include triplex housing, an artist's studio, offices, a show room for textile designer Kvadratv and a Contemporary Art Gallery. The agency decided to de-densify the plot by removing some of the covered surfaces between the buildings. A tree-lined central patio was thus created; enhanced by large bay windows and glass flagstones, it allows the spaces to breathe and provides light for the skylight that illuminates the underground gallery. The minimal nature of the set up and the simplicity of the materials used reinforce the respective identities of the buildings. The floorboards and the roofing of the eighteenth century were rebuilt to create a new level and the 19th century architecture has been enhanced by the restoration of its metal structure. Designed as a moveable object, a connecting module with a metal structure slides between the buildings; it includes a catwalk that overlooks the patio along with a suspended terrace.


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