2004/2008 - Grenoble

The Bicycle building

What do people look for from a house in the suburbs that they don’t get in town, why would they rather have a detached house than an apartment? Analysing the reasons for this could help us devise urban housing that is a better match for modern aspirations. Apart from the eternal desire for a garden, a recent study shows that approximately 40% of the area of a detached house these days is used to store objects of different kinds: food, clothes, tools, bicycles, surfboards, skis, etc.

Borrowed from the detached house for this project, this storage element becomes the essence of the apartment building. The apartments are connected by a wide outside walkway on the street side, with entrance to each apartment by a private balcony. Located between the walkway and the building’s main structure are volumes that contain the storerooms and bathrooms. They alternate with empty spaces running the whole height of the building. The “boxes” are clad with perforated corrugated steel sheet in different colours, which individualise the apartments and together create an expansive, dynamic and contrasted façade – an unpatterned and lively composition.

The lifts are big enough to carry bicycles, whilst the galleries form a panoramic promenade with views over the Belledonne chain. People enter their homes as they would a house, from the outside. The architecture of the storage and distribution system is designed for a project situated at the end of the cycle path network developed by the town of Grenoble. Residents will be able to reach their front doors on rollerblades, scooters, bicycles, etc., and then store their wheels in a safe place.

Inside, the pillar and slab structure allows great flexibility of layout and partitioning that is independent of the structural framework. The apartments are dual-aspect, simple in shape, easy to organise spatially either along traditional partitioning (day/night separation) or more flexibly, with an open-plan layout. The kitchens open onto terraces big enough for outdoor eating, and are situated on the side overlooking the garden.

Grenoble Habitat, Icade Cités

Floor area housing: 3 535 m²
Floor area shops: 300 m²

Cost budget
€4.73 million excluding VAT

Avenue Marie Reynoard - ZAC Vigny-Musset - Grenoble

Project management
Hérault Arnod Architectes, lead architects
Florent Bellet, project manager
Nicolas Ingéniérie, fluids
Batiserf, structure
Michel Forgue, economics

56 first-time buyer units with underground lockups
Ground floor shops

Rough plan March 2004
Delivery July 2008

André Morin
Olivier Fernandez
Hérault Arnod

Sustainability certificate
Habitat environnement