These atypical projects take on the challenge of transforming our heritage

It is not a utopia», confirms Christine Leconte, president of the Order of Architects on the topic of adapting architecture to the challenge of ecological transformation. Through community feedback, supported by architects in renovating their existing heritage, the Order of Architects wants to show that land is certainly missing, but that there is “invisible land» in underutilized or abandoned spaces that communities rehabilitate. The order provides proof by example, “showing the feasibility of the thing», as explained by Marjan Hessamfar, vice president of the Order of Architects.

An old farm converted into five accommodations in Espelette

Photo credit: Patrick Valleau

In Espelette, where residents face problems finding accommodation, an old farm with Basque architecture was converted in 2019 into five accommodation units of 85 m² (T4), each with a garden and an open view, through a genuine solidarity rental. This is a system that allows you to own the walls of your home, but not the land, which is an aid to home ownership. This operation fights against the artificialization of land while offering affordable housing in rural areas. The five families bought their house for 1,992 euros per square meter (compared to 3,200 in the private sector) and pay a rent of 90 euros per month for the land.

Market converted into a school club in Lyon

Photo credit: Vladimir de Mollerat du Jeu

A former market built in the late 1950s in Lyon was converted in March 2023 into a school facility with 15 classrooms and a crèche with 45 cradles. A gymnasium, school restaurant and accommodation for the janitor were also added. The building offers an area of ​​approximately 5,500 square meters, of which more than 4,000 are reconstructed and just over 1,000 created at a cost of 13 million euros. Summer comfort was also thought of, and parasols were installed in the rooms most exposed to heat, and children’s playgrounds were greened.

Reconstruction of a ruin in Corsica to create three wooden communal housing units


In the heart of the Corsican Regional Natural Park, an old ruined building has been reconstructed into three urban housing units of type T2, T3 and T4. A local tree species, Laricio pine, was chosen for this restoration. Short circuit architecture. The supply of wood actually takes place less than 63 kilometers from the site. A low-carbon operation that supports the use of bio-sourced materials. Mapping of forest resources was introduced to prevent depopulating the island of its trees.

An empty former military barracks occupied for three years by an emergency accommodation centre

Photo credit: EXE-Photo

The former Exelmans barracks in the 16th arrondissement of Paris will be transformed into 50 social housing units, 79 housing units for people in trouble and a nursery with 36 cots and offices at the end of 2025. From 2019 to 2023, instead of vacant, the site tested by temporary occupation, during the site conversion phase study. For three years, it was occupied by an emergency accommodation center managed by the Aurore association. Originally intended for police housing, this transformative project is based on the preservation of what already exists under the auspices of Paris Habitat.

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