Grand Parc Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France Construction and Development, Economic sustainability, Environment and Resource efficiency, Local social sustainability
“We want to enhance the capacity for mediation of architecture with all social actors, especially in relation to concepts that are fundamental today, like identity, social inclusion and all aspects of sustainability.”


A fresh approach to social housing: The project, winner of the 2019 EU Mies van der Rohe Award, consists of the transformation of 3 social housing buildings of 530 dwellings. Built in the early 60’s, a renovation was needed after their demolition has been ruled out. The transformation of the dwellings took place during the full occupancy of the residents. The extensions of the existing space through 3,80m deep winter gardens and balconies that are connected to every room – as in a house – widen the space of use and the mobility, offer redefined housing qualities and enhance the energy performance of the building envelope – an example of responsible housing for the future.


The project challenges the existing European housing stock from the post war period, using minimum means to achieve a maximum effect. Instead of demolishing, which involves the use of an important amount of energy, in this case the client understood and supported the advantages of transforming the existing three buildings.

Through this project, the social housing, with its built heritage often criticized, shows the example of a relevant and economic transformation that produces – from an existing perceived lack in qualities and seen in a negative way – generous , pleasant and performing dwellings, that renew the typologies and the living conditions, comfort and pleasure, and improve the urban dwelling image.

“This has changed people’s lives for the better without underestimating their previous lives, filling the new volume with poetry because it works with the basis that people understand space and in consequence, they use it in very different ways.”

Issues tackled

  • Complement vs. demolition, improving existing dwellings quality
  • Negative social and cultural stigmatization of social housing blocks, sense of belonging, identification with housing environment
  • Everyday living quality
  • Optimized energy performance

Actors involved

  • Aquitanis O.P.H. de la communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux (CUB)


  • A radical improvement of the space and quality of life of the occupants was achieved, alongside an optimization of economic and environmental cost of living.
  • The transformation took place without relocating residents, all residents were present during the transformation and aware of the progress of the works.
  • Precise inventorying guaranteed the preservation of existing qualities and a supplementation and extension of what is missing.
  • Proper planning and the reduction of the duration of the works led to a fast realization of the renovation within 2-3 weeks per unit.

Why it works

  • Avoiding relocation: All the families stayed in their dwelling during the construction works. This avoided project intransparency, extra costs and everyday life interruption for the tenants.
  • Wise Budgeting: No increase of rent after the transformation.
  • Conserving and Extending: The general economy of the project is based on the choice of conserving the existing building without making important interventions on the structure, the stairs or the floors. This approach on economy makes possible to focus the energy on generous extensions that are the key to enhance the dwellings quality and dimension in a lasting way.
  • Advanced research pays off: Research on the mix of occupants, space use and material shortfalls has resulted in an optimistic modern social housing ensemble that improves residential quality for the occupants, both individually and collectively.
  • Added comfort and visibility results in a strengthened identification with the living environment and counters negative images.



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