Renée Gailhoustet
Renée Gailhoustet

French social housing pioneer Renée Gailhoustet dies aged 93

French architect Renée Gailhoustet, who was awarded the Royal Academy Architecture Prize last year, has passed away aged 93.

Gailhoustet died at her home in the Le Liégat apartment complex, which was one of her best-known projects, according to an announcement on the Royal Academy's Instagram account.

A long-time advocate for social housing, Gailhoustet designed numerous housing blocks in the Paris suburbs including the 10-storey Le Liégat complex in Ivry-sur-Seine and the terraced La Maladrerie apartment block in Aubervilliers.

Le Liegat apartment building exterior
Renée Gailhoustet (above) lived and worked at Le Liégat – one of her key projects. Photo by Valerie Sadoun

In 2022 she was named as the fourth winner of the Royal Academy's Architecture Prize for her lifelong commitment to improving French social housing.

"Renée Gailhoustet's achievements reach far beyond what is produced as social or affordable housing anywhere today," said architect Farshid Moussavi at the time.

"Her work has a strong social commitment that brings together generosity, beauty, ecology and inclusivity."

The exterior of La Maladrerie by Renee Gailhoustet
The La Maladrerie apartment block in Aubervilliers is another key social housing project. Photo by Marc Patout

Born in 1929, Gailhoustet studied at the École des beaux-arts in Paris before joining French architect Roland Dubrulle's studio, where she began working on Paris housing projects including the renovation of the centre of Ivry-sur-Seine.

After establishing her own studio in 1964, she continued developing low-rise terraced housing for the Ivry-sur-Seine community. Along with Le Liégat, she also designed the Marat and Spinoza complexes.

Throughout her career she designed numerous other social housing blocks in the Paris suburbs, with the brutalist Ilot Basilique in Saint-Denis one of the most notable.

She also designed housing outside of Paris including several housing developments on the French African island of Réunion.

Gailhoustet is the latest of a number of significant architects and designers who have recently passed away.

Japanese Pritzker Prize-winner Arata Isozaki died in December aged 91 and punk designer Vivienne Westwood passed away in the same month aged 81.

The portrait is by Valerie Sadoun.