The Saint-Ouen experimental housing scheme followed on from a series of reflections on .social housing elaborated by Jean Nouvel, François Barré and Jacques Le Marquet in the framework of various competitions. The scheme is thus based on clear principles:
1) “A nice apartment means a big apartment”,
2) “Social housing has to stop reproducing the clichés of bourgeois apartments”. The designers set themselves an ambitious objective: 50 % space more than is usual in the price bracket in question. In order to achieve this they simplified the volumetry of the buildings to the utmost and reduced collective spaces to their simplest expression, notably by buildings stairs and landings on the outside. Despite the strict budget, by using industrial products and by implementing rigorous construction management they produced spacious dwellings with dual orientation whose user-friendliness has been confirmed over the years.
Olivier Boissière in Jean Nouvel: Jean Nouvel, Emmanuel Cattani and Associates, Éditions Artemis Verlag, Zurich, 1992