In Paris, cut stone is no longer reserved for Haussmann buildings, and now makes it possible to build or rehabilitate social housing. For social landlords, it is the assurance of manufacturing locally, with geosourced products and of being ecologically efficient.
No more concrete, the energy crisis and ecological considerations have gone through it, cut stone is once again becoming the most popular material for new constructions. Including for certain Parisian social housing, built or rehabilitated using this noble product par excellence.
The stone once again acclaimed in Paris
This is the case of a new building built at 16, rue Jean Bart, a few steps from the Jardin du Luxembourg, in the 6th, whose stone facade now fits perfectly with the Haussmann buildings that surround it, or even another located at 52, rue des Cévennes, in the 15th. Even chosen on the side of the ZAC Beaujon, in the 8th.
There, at 210 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, a social housing building and a police station were made of freestone. For the architect Sarah Kabbaj, of the NRAU agency, it is above all an aesthetic choice, which allows “a good architectural integration” of the project in the district “next to the Haussmann buildings”.
But it is also an ecological choice. “Stone is a very durable, more qualitative material. Not to mention the much better carbon footprint than concrete or brick, for example”, underlines the architect, who explains that only wood could be an ecological alternative, except that it “ages badly on the facade”. Before launching: “and then, we are lucky to have the stone next to us, so we might as well use it”.
A choice defended by Elogie-Siemp, one of the social landlords of the City of Paris, owner of this building. “We were seduced by the project, and yes, the freestone costs more, but it is also a bet on the future”, assures Valérie de Brem, the president of Elogie-Siemp, who says she is ready to spend more – up to 50% more for cut stone – if the project is worth it.
Quarries just 60 km from Paris
And who better than those who work in these careers to talk about it. In Saint-Maximin, in the Oise (60), it is the stone quarries that were used to erect the Palace of Versailles, the Madeleine or the Invalides, which are now used to build social housing and police stations.
Ancestral know-how “just 60 km from Paris”, welcomes Jean-Louis Marpillat, the president of Rocamat quarries, installed since 1853 in this small communist town. Here, we praise the quality of the limestone, 100% natural and mineral, extracted and transformed on site, but above all its environmental assets.
Twice less polluting than concrete, freestone has the advantage of having a “very low energy cost”, explains Jean-Louis Marpillat. “No need for cooking, no need for treatment, there is only cutting”, boasts the president of Rocamatwho is delighted to know that the stones from his quarries will continue to be used throughout Paris.
This is the case for the Hôtel de la Marine, recently restored on the Place de la Concorde, but also for the Louvre des Antiquaires, rue de Rivoli, where entire sections of walls have been replaced by new ones. Even more impressive, the stones of Rocamat will be used to rebuild the terraces, the gutters and certain statues of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral.
It is the stone that was used to build the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles.
Very happy to visit this morning the quarry of Saint-Maximin (Oise) which is used today to build some social housing programs. pic.twitter.com/C8zABTEbbH
— Ian Brossat (@IanBrossat) September 23, 2022
An energy and aesthetic choice therefore, that Ian Brossat, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of housing, also defended. “We have two desires: that of providing social housing in the boroughs with a deficit and that of providing quality social housing”, recalls the elected Communist, who says he is “very happy” that the stone “which was used to build the The Louvre and the Palace of Versailles can now be used for certain buildings in our social housing programs”.
Other freestone construction or rehabilitation projects are also underway, with a boarding house in rue de la Gaité, in the 14th, and another program in rue Ramey, in the 18th. A way to make social housing more attractive, far from the clichés from which they could suffer, even if there are still 200,000 people on the waiting list to obtain social housing in Paris, for 250,000 existing social housing.