New affordable houses in Paris leech onto existing buildings

Stephane Malka Architects’ modular city home will sell at 40 per cent below the market price.

Due to sky-high property prices and lack of new development space, it has become extremely difficult to find affordable housing in Paris, especially in the inner city and popular districts. Stephane Malka Architects plan to change this with 3BOX – its prefabricated, modular home units secured on top of existing buildings.

The three energy-efficient homes that have already been approved have a modern eco-aesthetic. The homes are comprised of a steel frame, glass and wooden walls, and urban gardens. The upcoming units will be stacked, in close proximity to each other, on the rooftop of an old building near the Canal Saint Martin. To develop a new apartment block in this area would be costly and result in a high rental for tenants but Stephane Malka Architects have found a way around this.

The 3BOX homes are now entirely legal thanks to Paris’ new la Loi Alur legislation that approves of building extensions onto existing sites. With the help of social organisation, Les Toits Du Monde, the architectural firm connects with building owners who are happy to offer their rooftops as a potential 3BOX sites. In return for the space, the architects pay the building owners in building renovations, offering façade facelifts and new amenities like lifts and insulation. This unusual business model is a low-cost alternative that allows the green housing units to be sold at 40 per cent below the real estate market price.

Aside from their affordability, the 3BOX units are also a solution to urban sprawl in the city, as building upwards frees up space in dense city neighbourhoods.