in 1975, having already completed residential projects in the french suburbs, ricardo bofill began working on a new development in montigny-le-brétonneux — 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the center of paris. once completed in 1980, this ‘new town’ of saint-quentin-en-yvelines comprised two distinct elements: les arcades, and le viaduc. with a total floor area of 30,000 square meters, the 4-storey arcades contain 389 apartments, while the 5-floor ‘viaduc’ accommodates a further 74 units.

ricardo bofill les arcades du lac
all images by gregori civera, unless otherwise stated

 

 

‘les arcades du lac; le viaduc’ was designed by ricardo bofill taller de arquitectura (RBTA) as a modern interpretation of a french garden. extending out into an artificial lake, the combination of symmetrical natural and built elements forms a walkable and accessible neighborhood. however, the project was intended to be more ‘realistic’ and ‘rational’ than the firm’s previous work. ‘it was built in order to attain credibility, at the lowest ebb of economic depression,’ explains RBTA.

ricardo bofill les arcades du lac
looking from ‘les arcades’, towards ‘le viaduc’ / image courtesy of ricardo bofill

 

 

the project is laid out in accordance with urban planning methods. ‘block, street, grid, square, urban grid deliberately simply orthogonal, like the layout of all cities in the past from hippodamus to cerdà, from ‘la vallette’ right up to new york,’ says the design team. ‘in this project, at the intersections of narrow streets, squares are treated like existing urban space, so essential to the life of the whole of the city.’

ricardo bofill les arcades du lac
façades feature prefabricated concrete panels or terracotta facing

 

 

conceived as a carefully composed garden — where the lake and vegetation form part of a strict composition — certain rows of vegetation have been replaced with inhabited walls. these concrete structures were cast in-situ, while the buildings’ façades feature prefabricated concrete panels or terracotta facing. each block is 8-10 meters deep, meaning that each unit is double aspect. vehicular transportation is limited to the scheme’s subterranean level where underground parking facilities are found.

ricardo bofill les arcades du lac
the core concrete structures were cast in-situ

ricardo bofill les arcades du lac
the scheme was realized as a modern interpretation of a french garden

ricardo bofill les arcades du lac
the project is laid out in accordance with urban planning methods

ricardo bofill les arcades du lac
the ‘viaduc’ extends out over the lake

 

 

 

project info:

 

name: les arcades du lac; le viaduc
address: ville nouvelle de st. quentin en yvelines, montigny-le-brétonneux, france
brief: 389 apartments (les arcades), 74 apartments (le viaduc)
completed: 1980
client: foyer du fonctionnaire et de la famille, paris
architect: ricardo bofill taller de arquitectura
total floor area: 30,000 sqm number of floors: 4 arcades; 5 viaduc
project team: p. hodgkinson, x. llistosella, r.collado
production team: r. collado, b. torchinsky, j.m. rocías
consultants: j.p. aury, concrete, y. serra, engineering
builder: l’hirondelle, paris, les arcades; S.P.E.l’hay-les-roses, viaduc

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