Almost all social housing in Paris up until the 1960s (when concrete took over) was built using brick, so it is entirely appropriate that the first such structure should have been constructed with the material. At the beginning of the 20th century, such buildings followed Art Nouveau inspirations of the time and used brick and ceramics to very attractive effect, but here in the Rue Jeanne d'Arc, the brick is almost frightening in its rough simple form.
The architect Wilfred Chabrol had been asked to draw something functional, and he designed a structure with 35 almost identical two-room apartments. No thought was given to making the facade of the building attractive, indeed its harsh, cold form was supposed to act as a deterent. This was a structure designed to get the destitute back on their feet, not make them feel warm and comfortable in their position of the assisted.
Today it still looks oddly out of place in the city, but it still serves the same purpose, perhaps still with the same philosophy of not making residents feel too attached to the structure. However, when you have a roof over your head after spending nights beneath the stars, it is unlikely that you will worry too much about the facade of a structure that is bringing you warmth and shelter.
Address: 45 Rue Jeanne d'Arc, 75013
Architect: Wilbrod Chabrol
Year of construction: 1888