Bringing some minor changes implied by the demands of our time, today we could ironically build a complex of the same type as the one Sauvage built 50 years ago, and this achievement would have nothing to envy to all the most recent models. This example should encourage us to explore and exploit, with unprejudiced eyes, the future of the past. Antoine Grumbach (Excerpt from “H” Revue de l’habitat social n°30, May 1978)
Henri Sauvage: Housing and swimming pool Rue des Amiraux, Paris – MVRDV Market Hall in Rotterdam
The first time we looked at the renderings of the Rotterdam’s Market Hall project by Dutch firm MVRDV, we couldn’t help thinking to an old, yet powerful building that the architect Henri Sauvage designed in Paris in the 1920’s. As A. Grumbach unconsciously prophetized in 1978, the way the different functions and architectural parts dialogue one with another in Rotterdam, looked to us like a revisiting of the original typology of the Parisian building.
The housing building and swimming pool in Rue des Amiraux was built between 1922 and 1927 following a project by Henry Sauvage (best known for La Samaritaine, in Paris) with an ingenious organization and an original combination of different functions. The architect, whose beliefs may be traced back to the hygienist movement, planned to build a cinema to couple the houses, but the city council opted for a swimming pool. The 7 floors of housing units are on three sides of the building and their size diminishes on each floor. This variation provides a terrace for each unit and gives the complex its peculiar stepped profile. At the core of the building is a swimming pool surrounded by two levels of changing rooms opening toward the centre, which lie on the back of the flats. The swimming pool is top-lit by an elevated courtyard and the whole section of the apartments works as its exterior, inhabited wall.
Images and drawings courtesy of Canal Architecture, the office responsible for the 1980-81 restructuration of the building. Colour photographs by Deidi Von Schaewen.
More infos and watermarked drawings on the site of the Cité de l’Architecture, Paris.
Following, some more drawings and images of the original 1927 building in Paris:
Swimming Pool floor
Housing: First floor
Above: the way the different functions and architectural parts dialogue one with another in the MVRDV building in Rotterdam, looked to us like a revisiting of the original typology of the Parisian building.