Buisson Saint-Louis

the building Buisson Saint-Louis near the beginning of the reconstructionthe longitudinal axis from the Buisson Saint-Louis streetcross section Buisson Saint-LouisWorkers of the construction site Buisson Saint-Louisfuture owners during the monthly site Buisson Saint-Louis visits the construction site Buisson Saint-Louis at an already advanced stageOverview of the Buisson Saint-LouisBuisson Saint-Louis main acces... under the porch then the main longitudinal xisone of the Buisson Saint-Louis stairs leading up to the upper floorthe interior of the Buisson Saint-Louis dwellings, toward the main square and opposite dwellingthe interior of the Buisson Saint-Louis dwellings - view toward the main squareA window of the Buisson Saint-Louis giving onto a small own garden - to note shelves allowing an interior of the Buisson Saint-Louis

Data sheet

Client: The future owners formed a private housing society "Le Lavoir du Buisson Saint-Louis"
Area: 1 650 m2/HO 1 300 m2
Design phase: 1979
End of construction: 1983
Architect: Bernard Kohn, together with Dominique Tessier, architectural assistant and in charge of site supervision.
Engineers: ARUP France, Georges Rouch, acousticien
Control: Socotec
Contractors: Main structure Tursic Sarl plus ten sub contractors.

Buisson Saint-Louis's document

Habitat en autopromotion


Le Lavoir du Buisson Saint-Louis

A movie of Claude Baïotti aand Philippe Mollon-Deschamps
Design its housing environment


Buisson Saint-Louis

Buisson Saint-Louis, Paris Xe, is an example of an exemplary use of participative architecture.
It is both an architect’s and the inhabitant’s dream come true: at the same time: together design the ideal living environment. The future inhabitants first chose the site, then the architect to interpret their wishes.
The site of a nineteenth century industrial "laundry" house, a permanent little paradise in the middle of a cosmopolitan and working class neighborhood that has never stopped evolving socially.
A long, passionate project, where pasted on rough brown paper, everyone brings, at the architect’s request, pictures of details, of atmospheres, of objects or places that are cherished.
These are discussed together, as well as being integrated into drawings, and models.

And thirty years later?

A generation was born and raised in Buisson Saint-Louis. These young people don’t want to leave this place. Their parents taught them about self-management. They had to face the tough desire to last by confronting maintenance and management issues. To this day, only one family has left.

It’s a kind of vast and compact nautical like house, a well studied assemblage and labyrinth of apartments wrapped one next to the other, with façades making a large use of glass, opening unto interior and exterior spaces, courtyards, patios, tiny gardens, fountains, stairs, platforms, columns, terraces, ramps, central alleyways, corners and tucked away spaces worthy of a true adventure park for all uses and users.

Today when we again speak about participative democracy, the renaissance of “collective individualities”, alternative ways of thinking, of living, and of living in the world, why not go even closer, and visit this participative architectural experiment full of meaning and humanity?


Design brief

Reconversion of a heritage wooden industrial neighborhood public laundry facility:
∙ 14 housing units including 2 triplex, 10 duplex and 2 on ground level.
∙ Common shared meeting room and facilities.



Situated on a long narrow dense urban lot, the "lavoir" was made up of two 19th century traditional wooden frame structures.
The structural elements of the main building has been preserved and reinforced while the facades have been totally redone.
Foundations, which had been basically insufficient were built.



Rebuilt entirely in wood and masonry, the front smaller building takes up the pre-existing volume.
The apartments are closely interwoven and some link both the front and the rear of the building.
The facade éléments followed the corresponding interior organizations and were designed as to allow the existing wooden structure to be seen.