Cattani Architects have designed the recently completed Cité A Docks student housing project, located in Le Havre, France. The housing consists of 100 apartments made out of old shipping containers.
The new town is the result of the transformation of old containers in modular housing units equipped with every comfort. Mounted on a metal grid, the containers have given shape to a four-story building that houses 100 apartments of 24 square meters each.
The architect Cattani said the thoughts that accompanied her work. “How do I prevent students, prospective tenants, they feel put in the box? Compelling needs have arisen. Necessary to conceive of a lightweight, transparent, and certainly not solid. Hence the idea of independent living, to avoid the stacking effect.”
The solution was found in a metal frame that acts as a structural support to the old container, while allowing to stagger the units, and create new space for walkways, patios and balconies. “The metal structure – Cattani says – it allows a better identification of the different rooms, and enhances them through the external extensions that become terraces and balconies. The sequences of the transverse corridors giving access to the apartments on the façade create a succession of full and empty spaces that gives the structure a more visual transparency.”
The building designed by the metal structure is spread over four floors, which are distributed on the 100 studios. The first level was raised from the ground. In this way, the units here guests can enjoy the same privacy afforded to units on the upper floors. All the apartments overlook a garden inside and are equipped on both ends of the glass walls that allow natural lighting of spaces.
To ensure maximum heat and sound insulation, the walls of the container adjacent to the outside and those that divide the different units have been coated with fire walls in reinforced concrete 40cm wide, and come within layers of rubber to dampen vibrations.
The external facade is designed by the combination of the old “boxes” that has kept the undulating, repainted in metallic gray. Inside, the designers chose white walls and wooden furniture. Each studio has a bathroom, kitchen and free Wifi.