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Nantes, located on the Loire River, takes quality of life very seriously: the affable city enjoys one of the highest standards of living in France. So why not extend that ethos to its social housing? Laetitia Antonini and Tom Darmon of the firm Antonini Darmon, lent this positive
mindset to the Oiseau des Îles residences, which put well-being at the forefront with large outdoor spaces, beautiful private surroundings and integrated community elements that define the mixed-use development.

The all-white main building rises 10 storeys to form a 45‑degree angle, reminiscent of a boat sail and clad in solar panels. Framed-in balconies create a powerful geometric plan on the exterior, a hallmark statement for the Paris firm. The grid pattern is animated by a series of solid and open blocks, and the building further comes to life as residents open and close the full-height shutters in perforated aluminum. From inside, chunky supports and privacy walls frame views to the outdoors. Internally, the complex is divided into individual houses, duplexes and standard flats, options designed to accommodate different lifestyles, for both single dwellers and families with children.

At street level, the residence appears to sit atop an extended bank of garages and such public amenities as shops, open spaces and patios. Sculpturally clad in natural timber, the ground-level structure looks as though it is lifting the building right off the street. Repetition of the vertical wood slats and an undulating roofline help to soften the presence of the angled white tower, which feels simple, warm and approachable.

Antonini Darmon’s commitment to sustainability and the use of affordable yet beautiful materials has set a new standard for social housing, one that benefits the inhabitants and the larger community.

About the firm: Founded in Paris in 2006 by Laetitia Antonini and Tom Darmon, Antonini Darmon strives to build “better, faster, cheaper.” The firm focuses on creative, sustainable projects that transcend established norms. Team: Laetitia Antonini and Tom Darmon with Claire Archimbaud and Daliana Vasilache

What the jury said: “Not enough good architecture is dedicated to housing projects. When someone takes the time to pay proper attention and care, that needs to be underlined and celebrated.” – Philippe Malouin

Winner: Multi-Unit Residential Buildings
2015 AZ Awards Winner: Best Multi-Unit Architecture

Oiseau des Iles, a stunning social housing project in France by Antonini Darmon, features framed-in balconies that animate its geometric facade.

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