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Project Nemausus by Jean Nouvel was a radical housing experiment that sought to apply industrial principles and materials to social housing. Nemausus was built in 1987 and is situated in an industrial zone in the southwest part of Nòmes as part of a program to renovate a decrepit district of 1960’s public housing. By using industrialized construction technology and industrial materials, the design team sought to reduce construction costs and thereby providing larger, better and cheaper dwellings. The application of such techniques also gave public housing a new image and Nemausus was seen as an alternative model of social housing that discarded the “usual limited, desolate programs of rent-controlled, subsidized housing.”[3]

Nemausus consists of two apartment blocks, each with seven-storey, gallery-access slabs that are aligned east-west alongside a row of trees that existed before the building was constructed. Both blocks are raised up on pilotis to provide for covered parking at a slightly depressed lower level.















Access galleries run alongside the northside of each block and are connected to open metal staircases and elevator stacks that are built within the frame. The frame consists of 5m x 12m structural bays, with perforated PCV awnings that extend from the roof and perforated metal balustrades that extend from cantilevered balconies. These cantilevered balconies form a continuous terrace on the south side of the blocks and by opening the full height concertina doors, the balcony space could be fully integrated with the living space, blurring the lines between the inside and outside. [2]

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Industrial principles and materials were applied at every possible part of the building. Corrugated aluminum panels, aluminum windows and white-painted bi-fold doors enclose the concrete structural frame and separating walls. Perforated galvanized industrial grating is used for the tilted panels of the balustrades and PVC agricultural louvers are used for the roof louvers. [3]



Within Nemausus, lies a diverse mix of flats, duplexes (two storey) and triplexes (three storey) that are packed together within the seven storeys. There are 17 different types of apartments with sizes ranging from one bedroom flats to three bedroom triplexes. Some of the triplexes even have top floor bedrooms that have their own separate entry door. Every apartment has bifold metal doors and most of the multi-floor dwellings have two story high volumes and some have two storey high doors. The industrial quality of the spaces even extends to the interiors where the concrete is left unfinished and manufactured panels and stairs are also used. In some of the flats the 5m bay has been divided into smaller rooms, but in most of the apartments, the full width of the structural bay is kept and the impression is of very generous, open loft space. [3]


Project Nemausus is a good example of how a rich layering of spaces and lives can be accommodated within standard structural bays without compromising on financial affordability and quality of living space. Given that Singapore’s rental housing community also comprises of a diverse range of household types, similar principles of spatial planning can be applied to achieve a greater degree of sensitivity to their varying needs and household uses.


All images sourced from

HIC>. “Jean Nouvel, Nemausus, Nimes” Accessed 19th Dec 2015.


[1] HIC>. “Jean Nouvel, Nemausus, Nimes” Accessed 19th Dec 2015.

[2] Ateliers Jean Nouvel. “Nemausus” Accessed 19th Dec 2015

[3] Roger Sherwood. “Nemasus I & II” Last modified 2002. Accessed 19th Dec 2015