The classic Haussmannian structure was built according to very strict rules. It should be six stories tall and no more than 20 metres high, and have eaves with a 45° incline, principally covered with zinc. Generally made using stone that came from the quarries surrounding the city, there was no room for any other material - or was there?
In the 11th arrondissement sits a magnficent 'ilot' structure, covering four separate streets (the Avenue Parmentier and Rues Deguerry, Darboy and du Chevet). It also has two individual entrances (130 and 132 Avenue Parmentier) and four street numbers, although apparently only one architect (Paul Fouquiau) and a single building permit. However, it is not these facts that make it interesting.
On the 5th and 6th floors of the building, which dates from 1891, deep red bricks are clearly exposed. The first similar example in Paris had been built six years earlier in 1885 (12, Rue de la Pompe* - see it here on Google street view), and it was a fad that would continue for approximately 30 years.
Feeling restricted by the very firm Haussmannian rules, a new generation of architects developed this technique as an easy and uncontroversial manner to add a touch of colour to the cityscape. It marked the return of brick to Paris, a material which had been out of fashion for nearly 200 years, and can also be seen as an early pointer towards the arrival of Art Nouveau styles in city constructions.
Can you spot any other examples around Paris?
* "La Brique à Paris", Bernard Marrey