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Striking Housing Complex Outside Paris Features Wraparound Arcades

Europe continues to innovate when it comes to housing design

It seems as though European nations are pioneers—especially compared with the U.S.—when it comes to well-designed social or affordable housing. And this new development, located in Boulogne-Billancourt, a western suburb of Paris, only furthers Europe's claim of dominance.

Designed by Paris-based firm Antonini Darmon, the 33-unit, seven-story social housing development, called the Arches Boulogne, features an irregular, pentagonal shape and a striking wraparound arcade featuring arches of varying widths on every floor. Compact balconies behind each arch offer a little outdoor space for residents, too.

The building's stacked floors appear slightly torqued, resembling, in a way, a Rubik's cube mid-turn. The architects also used the arches to "reinterpret the rhythm of the main facades of the old Renault [auto] factory," which was founded in Boulogne-Billancourt.

The building's aesthetic is a nod to the ancient Roman Colosseum and its more modern reimagining, the Fascist-style Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, more commonly known as Colosseo Quadrato, or Square Colosseum, built in Rome in the early 1940s.

Made of precast concrete, the development takes center stage in a seven-building complex called the Macrolot B5. It is located in Le Trapèze, a diversified district of businesses, private and social housing, parks, and shopping by the Seine river and Île Seguin.