Rechristened Sara Weill-Raynal as a tribute to the Parisian doctor and Socialist activist of that name, the former Belleville nursing home in the 20th arrondissement welcomed its new residents on 17 May after a five-year refurbishment programme.
Revelations about living conditions in certain nursing home have made elderly care into a burning issue. In this troubled context, the refurbishment of the Sara Weill-Raynal facility by Avenier Cornejo offers spatial responses that improve the lives of both residents and care staff.
The renovation is one of the construction and restructuring initiatives carried out by the Centre d’Action Sociale de la Ville de Paris (CASVP) whose aim is to improve the quality of care facilities across Paris.
The main aim of the project is to establish a sense of programmatic coherence and urban legibility in a dense and highly constrained site. This involves ensuring the new building relates harmoniously to its immediate neighbours by aligning it with the building at number 178 Rue Pelleport from ground to fourth floor.
Increasing the volume of the building within the constraints of local planning regulations, with setbacks on the fifth and sixth floors, has made it possible to add 460 sq.m. of floor area and to increase the number of resident rooms from 89 to 94. The presence of a protected green space made increasing the built volume impossible on the garden side.
The structural work that has been carried out reflects both respect for the existing building and economic frugality, retaining as much of the existing structure as possible and adding an extension with its own structural system and its own foundations.
The interior has been redesigned to adapt to the new requirements of the programme, placing the human dimension at the heart of the project. As in a family home, the dining rooms are places to meet and mingle. Central and open to the horizontal circulation areas, they are friendly and bright, encouraging residents to use them for group activities. Wellbeing is a central concern, with ergonomically designed rooms and facilities bringing residents and carers all the comfort they need.
As well as providing carefully thought-out responses to functional requirements, the project makes strong commitments to its future residents. The rooms are designed as fully-fledged living spaces with subtle finishings: wood panelling, bright floor coverings, attractive colour schemes… every effort has been made to create a calm, well-adapted and fulfilling environment.
The generously proportioned windows, equipped with sunshades, bring in natural light and maintain a connection with the city while protecting residents’ privacy. This dialogue with the urban surroundings is also embodied by the façade, which uses a material that forms part of the identity of the neighbourhood, namely brick.
The architects have opted for the flat, attractively textured “Kolumba” bricks (528 x 108 x 37 cm) developed by Peter Zumthor and Petersen Tegl for the Kolumba Museum in Cologne.
Once again, this choice reflects their eagerness to give the facility and its users a sense of nobility and dignity, doing away with negative preconceptions about care homes.
As a result of making the facility standards-compliant and restructuring the residential areas, all 94 rooms have their own en-suite bathrooms. This modernisation goes hand in hand with a highly focused response to current environmental challenges in the design and management of the facility. Certified haute qualité environnementale (HQE) and bâtiment basse consommation (BBC), the building offers optimised energy performance.
With its sensitively designed spaces opening onto a sheltered garden planted with trees, the Sara Weill-Raynal facility offers ample opportunities for gentle walks in the open air. Protected from the hustle and bustle of the street, the path that winds through the garden is adapted to residents’ mobility needs, providing regular resting spots furnished with wide benches.
Views that connect
Both respectful of user privacy and open to the outside, the building establishes a subtle rapport between interior and exterior. The brick mashrabiya screen punctuating the main façade creates a delicate connection between the common areas and the ground floor on the street.
Kolumba brick was developed in 2000 by Peter Zumthor and Petersen Tegl for the Kolumba Museum in Cologne. Avenier Cornejo has used this iconic flat brick (528 x 108 x 37 cms) for the façades of a 6-storey nursing home on the Rue Pelleport in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Inspired by the authenticity and durability of this material, Christelle Avenier and Miguel Cornejo offer residents and carers an atmosphere of dignity and calm from the interior spaces to the garden. By the same token, they have provided the Rue Pelleport with yet another contemporary architectural feature: after Soler at number 99, Borel at number 131 and Bruther at number 135, we now have Avenier Cornejo at number 180. Who would now say that this is a deprived neighbourhood?
Architects: Avenier Cornejo Architectes
Project managers: Christelle Avenier, Miguel Cornejo, Pierre-Nicolas Georgeton,
Olivier Saramito, Pierre Szmul, Jean-Remy Turot.
Project team: EVP Ingénierie [structural eng.], B52 [HVAC]
Bureau Michel Forgue [quantity surveying]
IDDEA [asbestos removal]
ETAMINE [green credentials]
Client: Centre d’Action Social demla Ville de Paris (CASVP)
• NF Habitat HQE – renovation of care facility
• City of Paris Climate Plan
First fixing: COLAS
Second fixing: SOGEFI – MOREAU
Exterior fit-out: TERIDEAL
Photographers: Simone Bossi, Charly Broyez