The La Défense complex for Îlot 19 is the first residential building to be built in La Défense, the main business district of Paris, in 30 years. It is part of Jardin de l’Arche: an urban project initiated by EPADESA to invigorate the space immediately west of La Grande Arche. Its site is exceptional as it fronts the Axe historique (historical axis) that cuts through Paris and defines a grand open space through the city between the Louvre Museum and La Défense. It is the first building seen when standing on the Axe Historique on the steps of La Grande Arche looking west. To the north, it borders Neuilly cemetery and to the south, it fronts the Promenade de l’Arche - a new public space, beyond which Puteaux cemetery is visible.
The La Défense Îlot 19 complex is therefore virtually free-standing, with open views in every direction. It is designed as a 12m-deep linear slab oriented NW–SE, with 11 storeys above a basement level housing 96 apartments on 9 levels, and 92 student rooms on 4 levels, accessed by point vertical circulation. Each floor is rotated by 2 degrees in alternating directions in order to expose it to views of the Grand Axis. This introduces a stepped profile and therefore every other floor on each long side of the slab is shaded by the floor above, which steps beyond it. Each 2 apartments share a stair core and a lift with a small landing. This gives the apartments privacy and allows them to extend through the depth of the slab, providing a double aspect in a NW–SE direction and natural cross-ventilation. A structure of concrete walls between the apartments, together with the concrete core and floor slabs, liberates the interiors from load-bearing walls, and future-proofs them for different layouts. The residential units are fully glazed at both ends and open to a terrace at one, shaded by the overhanging floor above, and a loggia at the other end clad with sliding aluminium shutters that residents can open or close to vary their degree of privacy.