This project for 14 single-family houses is part of an operation for 61 dwellings created by five teams of architects in the extended space of a housing estate in Mulhouse.
Low-cost housing has always meant small spaces, cheap materials and compact design. In the case of the Cite Manifeste in Mulhouse architects Lacaton & Vassal were striving against the "old logic". Their aim was to create maximal apartments for all inhabitants. Their intervention might be the most radical of the five team of architects in the Cite Manifeste.
Lacaton & Vassal aim was to produce quality houses that are, for the same price, considerably larger than the standardized housing usually met with. To begin with, the creating of a structure and a cheap and effective simple enveloppe enables to define, on the loft principle, a maximum surface area and volume with contrasting, complementary and surprising spatial qualities. The Eco-Houses project in Berlin by Frei Otto in 1990 was a source of inspiration for Ilot Schoettle.
Structure and materials
According to their concept architects chose cheaper industrial materials and designed cost-efficient details in order to cut back the cost of the structure and save more money to create roomy apartments. For instance the greenhouse on the first floor with its polycarbonate construction allows 18-meter depth apartments flooded by light and with only two-thirds of it is thermally insulated.
On the ground floor a post/beam structure in concrete supports a platform at a height of 3m, upon which horticultural greenhouses are fixed. The frame is in galvanized steel, the walls in transparent polycarbonate. Part of the greenhouse is isolated and heated. The other part constitutes a winter garden, largely ventilated via the roof and facade. A horizontal sunshade unfurls inside the greenhouse.The greenhouse principle, with its automated climate-control devices, has enabled solutions to the bioclimate to be developped.
Free and controllable spaces
Awnings and sliding elements - handled by the inhabitants themselves - are controlling the temperature. The open-space concept inside, that the lofts were not originally devided by walls eased the flexible furnishing and the various interior design.
Later on, architects divided the volume into 14 dwellings, set crosswise in duplex form, which profit from all the different qualities offered by the diversity of the spaces.