Building Cities and City Building

ANMA has practiced architecture and urban planning in Europe over the past ten years, developing interdisciplinary practices, which combine different approaches to research in both architecture and urban planning, as well as landscape and public space design. Nicolas Michelin’s experience as the head of the architecture school of Versailles, has given the practice considerable direction in this sense, helping to keep the practice at the forefront of urban and architectural thought. This, coupled with over 15 years as a practicing architect, has defined the practice’s approach to scale: rather than focusing on monuments or on display and statement, our approach is based in working towards quality spaces for working, teaching, living and co-habiting. From the man on the street to the configuration of urban living, we work to develop happiness and solidarity among urban dwellers.

ANMA has worked on extremely different scales of intervention, based on the idea of Haute Qualité d’Usage(HQU). Going beyond the notion of Quality of Life, “HQU”, focuses on city dwellers as users of architecture and city space, and as the actors around which buildings and plans are conceived. From district Masterplans such as those implemented in Dunkirk, Metz, or Bordeaux, to the minutiae of the detailed design for students’ rooms within our Zero Energy student housing to be built in Paris, space, light, interaction, access, and sustainability inform all of these design decisions and have been the base for our success.

Like a periscope zooming from the large scale of a region to the scale of private and public spaces of an apartment block, mixed use and density go hand in hand to ensure that our Masterplans foster these key principles. The Armagnac Housing project in Bordeaux, a hyper-dense block, exemplifies this approach; bringing together hanging shared gardens  built on the second floor of a structure, around which apartments creep up into the sky. This private-public plaza looks onto public spaces below, and over the city beyond, forming a visual and scalar relationship between the apartment and the city below. On the ground floor commercial premises and a media centre are available for the use of the inhabitants of the block and the surrounding district. Like a hill-town on the scale of the block, the interplay of nature and the rapport between the block and city scale makes us think about how the articulation of architecture and urban planning scales can create new ways of urban living.