BORDEAUX – The dockland of Bordeaux, named les Bassins à flot, is going through a major urban redevelopment directed by Agence Nicolas Michelin & Associé. The ongoing project sets out to create a new urban area by reinterpreting the characteristics of the coastal docks. Their latest upgrade sees the creation of a residential building located in the Achard-Blanqui-Étranger block. 

Named Nexity, the structure comprises two apartment buildings connected by a shared atrium-covered garden which resembles a ‘lived-in boathouse’. Spanning 1500 sqm, the courtyard – covered mostly with glass – acts as a communal meeting point between the two buildings. This space allows for a parking lot on the ground floor and a garden on the first floor. Both buildings contain two shared halls that lead to the central atrium where residents can access their homes. Carefully selected plants are placed in front of the accommodations creating a garden between the apartments and the communal corridor.

In order to sustain the plants and regulate the climate of the interior garden, a system of ventilation was necessary. The central area, with two different ventilation processes, permits an inter-climate space by optimizing temperatures all year round. In the summer, heat is ‘evacuated by large openings on the tympanums’ while, in the winter, ventilation is restricted in order to capture the heat from the sunshine hitting the south-facing roof. Adapting to the shape of the surrounding hangars, the roof construction of the building continues a succession of north-south facing sheds.

The Achard-Blanqui-Étranger block, where Nexity is located, incorporates traditional urban forms including ‘residential hangars’, activities buildings, small ‘towers’ as well as ‘hybrid buildings’ recreating the existing program of Les Bassins à flot. The architects ‘have, as far as possible, preserved the buildings already housing activities and rehabilitated patrimonial elements’. Asserting the multipurpose nature of the dockland, the redevelopment aims to combine fun, cultural and economic activities and ultimately accentuate the lively atmosphere commonly associated with maritime land.  

Photos courtesy of Cyrille Weiner