Lloyd Alter of Treehugger recently wrote about this infill housing project in Paris. Designed by Mobile Architectural Office (MAO), it is a 6-storey building with 6 residential suites (two of which are 3-storey triplex suites) and 1 ground floor non-residential space.
But here’s where things get really remarkable: the area of this corner site is less than 100 m2 (~1,000 sf), the construction budget was €940,000 (excluding VAT), and almost the entire structure was built out of cross-laminated timber. So overall, this is an incredibly sustainable build: it uses land and services efficiently and it uses low-carbon materials.
At this point, you should now be wondering, “why can’t we just do this everywhere?” And this would be the right question.
Lloyd correctly points out in his article that one of the things that makes this building feasible is that it only has one exit stair (as well as no elevator). Typically you need two means of egress, which can serve as a real barrier to smaller builds like this one here.
But in this case, and this is part of the argument, the building is small enough that, should a fire or emergency happen, occupants could be rescued through their windows. So technically there are still two ways of getting out.
In this year’s predictions, I mentioned that we would see “supportive building code changes”, which would help to encourage more infill housing. Exiting is one of the changes I had in mind when I wrote the post. So here’s hoping that policy makers are reading this blog, looking to projects like this one in Paris, and recognizing the benefits.
Talking about exit stairs may not be as exciting and seemingly impactful as something like a foreign buyer ban, but I promise you that removing the many barriers to building this scale of housing would ultimately bring more benefit to our cities.
P.S. This project is also social rental housing.