A renovation of 1960s social housing in France has been awarded the European Union’s 2019 Mies van der Rohe Award.

Frederic Druot Architecture, Lacaton and Vassal Architectes and Christophe Hutin Architecture were responsible for the project, Transformation of 530 Dwellings in Grand Parc Bordeaux.

With demolition not an option, the design team decided to make some subtle changes to increase natural light and outdoor space on every level of the three housing blocks.

Social housing renovation natural lightPhotography by Philippe Ruault

To achieve this, 3.8-metre-deep winter gardens and open-air balconies were added to all apartments. The existing small windows were also replaced with large glass sliding doors opening onto the outdoor areas.

The extensions were made via modular construction, which meant residents could continue living in the buildings uninterrupted. The on-site assembly process required precast slabs and columns to be hoisted into place by cranes to form a freestanding structure, with the foundations made from concrete poured in situ.

The new facades were clad in lightweight corrugated polycarbonate panels, with windows in aluminium frames.

Each apartment took between 12 to 16 days to renovate and residents’ rents were kept at the same rate.