The main challenge DCA (Design Crew for Architecture) faced in their proposal for a family and childhood house, located in Saint Julien en Genevois, France, was the resulting compactness from the tight ratio between the net area planned to be built and the buildable area allowed by regulations. Despite their extremely restrictive lot, they aimed for great quality spaces while instilling some generosity to create project that moves toward consistent urban characteristics. More images and architect’s description after the break.
The main danger in the construction of a new building is the violence it might be for the landscape. This is an increased risk for public facilities considering the stakes they represent in terms of image and representation. As a result, our proposal affirms a strong will to take into consideration the public sphere’s handling in the first place as a precondition for the architectural expression of the building itself.
Our proposal was to be inserted in a neighborhood where buildings took on various sizes. Many styles, many times: this was a hybrid and unstructured site mainly composed with vernacular domestic architecture. This project acts as an attempt for a public facility to exist despite an unfavorable mass ratio and to move toward with consistent urban characteristics out of respect for the future of its neighborhood.
So one of the major stakes of this project was to manage and create a quality public ground level despite the inherent density of this operation. The building doesn’t serve as a sign by its monumentality, but it takes on a place of its own thanks to the emptiness it generates. In spite of the dichotomy between the plot’s buildable area and the client’s needs, we refused hyper compactness. This new facility cannot and must not shut itself off from the rest of the city.
The Family and Childhood House frees the ground thanks to the big cantilever. As a result, the building is open to the city while simultaneously welcoming the citizens. Since the volumes are uncluttered and minimalist in design, they call for a calm atmosphere and smoothly impose the building in its environment. Their sobriety is their strength: free of useless gestures so the building becomes obvious.
This Family and Childhood House intends to be a patriarch: wise, respectful and respected. Increasing the simplicity of the building’s volumetric qualities, the treatment of the facade makes the building look like an abstract monolith. Alternating white Emalit glass and mirror glass, the building envelop is extremely sensitive to its environment. The building is also a light sensitive object. Its perception changes through the day light thanks to infinite reflection effects.
Architect: DCA / Design Crew for Architecture
Location: Saint Julien en Genevois, France
Partner in charge: Nicolas Chausson, Jiaoyang Huang
Renderings: Romain Ghomari
Type: Invited Competition
Date: October 2010
Status: 2nd Prize
Client: City of Saint Julien en Genevois
Cost: 6,800,000 €
Program: 2 day-care centers of 45 cradles each, a maternal and infant welfare centre, an early childhood development center.