The Fontaine Mallet neighbourhood in Villepinte, a project of 500 housing units that was inaugurated in 1972, was the subject of an ambitious urban renewal initiative conducted by the French national urban renewal agency ANRU between 2008 and 2013. The neighbourhood remained near and dear to the residents of Villepinte, because it emblematised domestic comfort and had helped create a tightly knit community, but public and cultural facilities were sadly lacking.
To remedy this, it was decided in 2012 that a social and cultural centre would be built to house activities for the neighbourhood (a family day-care, a recreation and workshop centre, and a room for community organisations). The facility was financed by the Ile-de-France Region, the ANRU, Allocations Familiales, Paris Terres d’Envol, and the European Union via the Feder system, among others.
The project defines urban and architectural scales by creating a square with softly articulated passageways that lead to the centre of the neighbourhood. Its volumes are both distinctive, such that they respond to the residential towers, and welcoming, due to its large openings and noble materials of stone and wood.
Built between 1971 and 1973, the Fontaine-Mallet ZUP priority urban development zone is a classic example of France’s large-scale housing projects known as grands ensembles.
A social space has been created inside the building to facilitate mingling among the neighbourhood’s inhabitants: a bar/tearoom that opens out onto the patio when the weather is good, along with a temporary exhibition space, a modular party room, and activity rooms for community organisations.
The soundproofing and lighting ambiances in the sections for small children and youth were carefully developed to render the day-to-day usage of the space as ergonomic as possible.