You better knock on wood By Emmanuel Combarel Dominique Marrec​

You better knock on wood

By Emmanuel Combarel Dominique Marrec​ (ECDM)



A tower built in the 1960s lends itself as the base of this project. The building exists as solitary object, located beside a ring road that wraps around the urban fringes of Paris.

The City above the City

This project is a product of sedimentation. It is composed of a layering of modern values and their superposition onto a postmodern archetype. The concept of “time” is used as the driving force to emphasize a new way of living. 

A Decontextualized Object

The building in its present form exists as a protrusion in a landscape characterized by infrastructure. It stands as an autonomous object, unrelated to its surrounding environment.

Encompassing Design

The project consists of the addition of a double facade made of wood over the existing building. This addition aspires to catalyze new activities on the exterior faces of the building. The design of all four facades has inherently been given equal weight and importance.

Protection and Privacy

The facades play with materiality and varying material thicknesses to create a building that is open to its surrounding environment. A double façade is constructed using wood framing to act as both a sound and thermal barrier, while simultaneously expanding the surface area of the dwellings. The massiveness of the wood construction creates a sense of protection and privacy. 

Extending Outwards

The subsidiary outdoor spaces act as mediators between the interior dwellings and the surrounding environment. The core concept of the project is to extend the main living spaces of each dwelling through the use of a modifiable exterior space. The double facade structure ensures 100 % of the dwellings with generous outdoor spaces, potentially consisting of: loggias, balconies, terraces or conservatories, and resulting in a 30% increase in the initial surface area of each dwelling.
The project aspires to create a balance between the indoors and the outdoors.

The Flexible Dwelling 

Importance is placed on the development of flexible living spaces to allow for their effortless adaptation and transformation to the needs and ways of future inhabitants.
The challenge of the dwelling is to encourage a multitude of uses and activities and to promote housing for families, while also supporting change through freedom of customization.

Structural Simplicity

The total construction on the building is reduced to the simple addition of a structure over top of the existing building. The expansion of the interior living spaces is achieved by the addition of this external structure, constructed entirely out of wood. This surrounding structure is partly supported by the extended floor slab on the first floor of the building and partly by steel connectors anchored to the original building façade on subsequent floors. This structural assembly successfully prevents the development of thermal bridging at balcony connections. The exposed wood connections emphasize the role of wood construction in this project and harken back to the ancestral traditions of carpentry.​

City Above the City architecture competition

Plan B : City Above the City architecture competition 

Metsä Wood challenged architects and students around the world to push the boundaries of modern wood building design in the urban environment. Entrants from 40 countries created their Plan B to urbanisation using wood (Kerto® LVL – laminated veneer lumber) as the main material. The task was to design a wooden extension to an existing urban building. The entries were designed to 69 cities worldwide.

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