Located at one end of a mixed-use development in the French city of Nantes is a modern architectural masterpiece called Oiseau des Iles. Made out of an assemblage of strategically-placed solid walls, perforated shutters and recessed balconies, this 10-storied tower is unique for the symphony of solids and voids that it creates.
Designed by the Parisian Antonini Darmon Architectes firm, the building is being deemed the newest commercial hub in the rapidly developing western part of Île-de-Nantes. Oiseau des Iles, in French, actually means Bird Islands; an apt name for this multi-faceted structure. The building comprises of two parts: a 600-sq-m commercial area at the bottom and a gridded 30-unit residential apartment sitting almost precariously atop the timber base.
The upper part of the tower is actually constructed in the form of a social housing complex. But what is truly striking is the somewhat-inconsistent arrangement of the gridded exterior. The white lattice facade of the building consists of an array of solid walls, adjacent to which are open recessed balconies and even punctured aluminium screens. Each of the grids is supported on all four sides by means of strengthened steel frames.
Talking about the project, the team was recorded saying:
The great strength of the program and of its articulation resides in the duality which exists between the telluric plinth, a monolith on a pedestrian scale, and the community accommodation that rises up out of this block. Echoing the urban thread, the facade receives a skin-like surface, an almost living mashrabiya or lattice work, alternating between solid, void and the movement of the shutters as they are opened and closed.
The slightly angled roofline adds a whole different dimension to the structure. Apart from the 24 apartment-units that make up the top nine floors of the tower, six separate duplexes, adorned with pretty little gardens in the front, are situated along the southern and eastern sides of the timber plinth. Shops and parking lots constitute the commercial space below.
To learn more about the Oiseau des Iles building, click here.