The vehement reaction against 1960s modernist housing has spurred several generations of inventive critiques. Since 1989 and the fall of Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, the rehabilitation of vast tracts of such housing has become a key political, ecological, and architectural concern. At Bois-le-Prêtre, formerly a banal modernist housing slab, a new glass shell of balconies completely envelops the existing building, breaking the monotony of the facade and improving the building's insulation. This addition has increased apartment footprints by roughly fifteen percent and provided more natural light and better views. In addition, the floor plans of individual apartments were modified during the redesign and customized to individual needs.
The work was done in two parallel phases: as the prefabricated, modular facade structure took shape, the apartment interiors were modified and new openings created in the old exterior walls. Residents could stay in their homes or move into one of eight spare apartments in the building during construction. In a world of diminishing resources, this organic model of transformation and adaptive reuse is ingenious and exemplary.
Gallery label from Born out of Necessity, March 2, 2012–January 28, 2013.