Carlo Ratti Associati attempts to weave together two neighbourhoods through the design of ILOW

International studio CRA- Carlo Ratti Associati in collaboration with property developer Bouygues Immobilier unveils the design of ILOW (translated to ‘small island’ in French) in Paris that intends to act as a connection between the ‘La Defense’- French capital’s financial powerhouse and the nearby Cloud Towers (Tours Nuages)- an iconic and pioneering social housing project designed by architect Emile Aillaud.

ILOW, designed in collaboration with Agence d’Architecture Willerval et Associés conceived the shape of building to be that of two open-arms that together connect the two adjacent but different socio-economic neighbourhoods.

The building emphasizes the idea to create a tangible common ground that extends on multiple levels while creating visual connections and engagements. ILOW is built around two wings with a central courtyard evolving in between- connecting them to the nearby public park. The design caters to 12,500 sqm/ 134,550 sqft. of mixed-function spaces- including offices, restaurant and cafe.  The ground floor is open and transparent thereby promoting a sense of cohesion and blending between the different communities while the building terrace holds a roof garden.  

“We are trying to use design promote social encounters – between different people, cultures and social groups,” says Carlo Ratti-founding partner of CRA

Meanwhile, the Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says: “This is what is unique about physical- as opposed to digital-space, something which the pandemic made us all too aware of. We can use architecture to bridge across different social worlds.”

The Non-linear curvaceous facade is driven by a parametric design approach following a mathematical model formulated to address a group of ever-evolving targets or parameters. Prefabricated modules of various sizes are arranged to create a curved surface that is designed to follow the sun’s trajectory, guaranteeing the optimum lighting conditions indoors while reducing energy consumption. The focus on environmental sustainability also then inspires the project’s name.

Text by Nikitha Sunil, Contributor- Architecture+Design

Project Info:

Name: ILOW

Architects: Carlo Ratti Associati, Italy 

Property Developer: Bouygues Immobilier

Location: Nanterre, France

Built-up Area:  12,500 sqm

Status: Under Construction