Codename : Haïku

The story of an alchemy

Gauenne, Francesca and Alexandre, architects and landscape architect archi5, are taking part in the housing project at the heart of the Cité des Poètes (Malakoff). Together, they will give this post-war garden city a new lease of life.


Architectural competition won in 2022 by archi5 and Olivier Sinet.


The Cité des Poètes is a dense housing estate dating from the 1950s in the heart of Malakoff. Its renovation will begin in 2019 with the demolition of the Rimbaud and Verlaine bars, which will be replaced by 64 homes in two blocks of two buildings each. The competition was won in 2022 by archi5 (36 homes) and Olivier Sinet (28 homes).

« The aim of the urban development is to turn the Cité into a new district and ensure visual continuity through the housing created, with its varied typologies ». says Gauenne.

« Right from the first visit, given the natural wealth of the site and its surroundings, we envisaged encouraging and extending the existing plant continuity and rediscovering the landscaped character of the Cité ». she continues.

« The Cité des Poètes was built in the spirit of urban parks, based on the garden city model. Its park has a history. The trees were all planted when the apartment blocks were built, and many of the current residents have seen the vegetation grow. We decided to keep the trees to preserve the heritage ». says Alexandre.

The park has some remarkable trees. Alexandre coordinates the analysis of the site to identify all the trees that will be preserved. The story becomes crystal clear. The project is called « Haïku », Japanese poetry that celebrates the evanescence of things and the sensations they evoke, often in relation to nature and the seasons. The name reflects the intention of the project: to create emotion through the environment.

And to differentiate the islands, each is named after the most emblematic tree on the site  : « Haïku Judée » for one island and « Haïku Cèdre » for the other. Both were carefully moved a few metres to allow the project to go ahead. Preserving everything possible, transplanting if necessary, and enriching the plant palette.

« We’ll use the wood from the few trees we can’t save to make furniture » says Alexandre. Everything is preserved, nothing is lost, nature is precious.

« All these gestures contribute to the quality of the homes and offer an atmosphere that is closer to nature and the history of the place » explains Gauenne.

« Our decision to build in wood was not a random one, but a direct result of the existing situation: a wooded site in the city around which a community is being created. As architects, we are committed to improving the lives of users, while taking care to preserve the site and its biodiversity. The Haïku project represents an architectural parenthesis in time and nature », confides Francesca.

On the ground floor, the new homes have private spaces extended by gardens. The corner lounges are double-exposed, with extended views over the landscaped exterior. The ground floor (R+3) features duplex apartments under the roofs, designed as houses with large adjoining terraces. The car parks are now underground to maximise the amount of open space.

« Thanks to the omnipresence of wood in the project, the buildings are at one with nature. This forms the basis of the identity of the new neighbourhood. » concludes Gauenne.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2026.

Gauenne, project manager:
Gauenne was born in Lyon but grew up in Korea. She studied architecture at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul. She then decided to broaden her knowledge and experience of architecture in France. She went on to study for a Master’s degree at ENSA Paris-Belleville, where she obtained both her architecture diploma and the HMONP. On the strength of this enriching and multicultural experience, she decided to develop her professional experience at archi5, the agency she joined 6 years ago.

Francesca, project assistant:
Francesca was born and grew up in Aversa, in the Naples region. She draws her architectural sensibility from Italy’s heritage. Passionate about art, design and music, she draws on this particular triad to develop her architectural vision.
A graduate of the Luigi Vanvitelli University of Architecture (2020), Francesca joined archi5 in 2020. She is working on several projects at the agency, including the Cité des Poètes, the fruit of her contribution.

Alexandre, landscaper :
Alexandre is a graduate of the ENSAP Bordeaux workshops. Although the desire to become a landscape gardener was present at an early stage in his career, he began by taking up a certain form of artistic practice through the faculty of plastic arts. Drawing gave him the freedom and ease of spatial design that has stayed with him ever since. His desire to create emotion and make discoveries guides him in all his projects. He joined archi5 paysage 2 years ago.

Link to the project