The Double Lives of Buildings

In La Confluence, architects and property developers are also designing buildings capable of easily adapting to different purposes over time. In these so-called reversible buildings, offices can be turned into housing units (and vice-versa) to plan for future transformations in the area. An economical, sustainable solution



On Quai Perrache, across from the Rhone, the buildings are designed for office use. In the future, when the motorway is turned into a city boulevard, housing units could be created. How can this opportunity be seized? By planning ahead, right now, by designing reversible premises; in other words, offices that are capable of being turned into housing units quickly and cheaply.


Flexible, sustainable construction

Reversibility is beginning to take off in the construction industry. Faced with the growing need for new housing units in certain areas where land is scarce, office building owners can give their buildings a second life by converting to residential use. However, such reconfigurations have the disadvantage of being quite complicated and expensive. But if, right from the start, this option is built into the design, for example, by making the ceiling heights suitable for both residential and office use, or by installing modular technical systems, the cost of the conversion can be divided by three. This makes for a speedier construction project and a building with a longer life cycle. This is the case with the office buildings Arabesk (Ydéal) in Block B2 (OGIC) and Work#1 in Block A1 South (Linkcity), the latter of which also has large balconies. “These outdoor spaces, which are rare in office buildings, are first going to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Then, each housing unit will have a private balcony, with no modifications to the architectural design”, said Lucie Paquet, Director of Major Projects at Linkcity Southeast. Developed as part of Eurêka Confluence, the industrial demonstrator for sustainable cities, this reversible building will be completed by the end of 2020. 


Adjustable-size apartments

On Place François Mitterrand Square, across from Place Nautique Square, property developer Ogic is constructing a 9-story building with a surface area of 5,700 meters. It will be completed in 2020 with shops on the first floor, offices on the second and third floors and then housing units on 6 floors. Architects Diener & Diener, with Clément Vergély, designed modular units, in order to make the building reversible. “The offices can become housing units, and vice-versa. Large apartments can be transformed easily into two or three smaller units. The idea is to be able to change the premises to suit the evolution of the district and the occupants’ needs”, summarized Sabine Bonnet, Operational Director of Ogic. Ogic overcame a few technical and legal hurdles, such as adapting the building rules so that a unit can be converted without a prior vote, provided that the facade or common area is not affected.



projet Ydeal (B2) par OGIC, Diener und Diener et Clément Vergély architectes


projet A1Sud par BOUYGUES, David Chipperfield, Aires Mateus, Vera et associés