Text description provided by the architects. Historical background and location
The project is located in a suburban village between Geneva and Lausanne. group8 have built two of the five buildings which were part of the first phase of a neighborhood planning strategy. The reflective process has been based around both a social and urban analysis in order to endorse the urban density, which is a required stage for all municipalities of the region.
A proactive development of the housing zone has been made in accordance with the guidelines of the program, encompassing the existing spatial and built elements located in the area. New and denser urban forms consisting of intermediate sized volumes with flat roofs have complemented the existing buildings while maintaining an appropriate scale.
The two buildings consist of three floors above ground and offer different typologies of apartments that meet both the characteristics of an urban multi-unit dwelling or an individual villa. The 16 units generated are duplex or single apartments ranging from the studio to six rooms. A childcare centre also completes this housing complex. The five buildings of the program are interlinked by a level of underground parking.
Concept and Volume
Like the houses, the apartments are arranged in juxtaposition of floor slabs separated by physical interstices, thereby providing openings for each housing, on every side. The openings are either positioned directly on the front or on the second aperture at the heart of the plan.
Gaps between dwellings imply that there is no housing in direct contiguity, which strengthens both the sense of individualization and privacy. From a collective approach, these gaps allow outside views from the public places on each level.
The over proximity of the buildings means there are relatively small spaces between the units. Each apartment has a generously sized terrace, positioned as loggia within the volume. The volumes are treated as finite forms which have been cut out and carved in order to provide private spaces specific to each dwelling.
Shell and Structure
The buildings are wrapped in a pierced skin composed of travertine blades. Their function is primarily to behave as visual filter, similar to a claustra, in order to protect the apartments. This limits the views between the apartments as they are very close to each other. A frontal view allows for an outward visibility, while a lateral view protects from a direct visibility.
The external stone blades bring a certain texture and vibration feeling to the front elevation. It provokes a change of perception for the observer walking along the street. By passing by each of the apartment windows, the blades ensure a partial protection against bad weather and limit sunbeams.
Context and Materiality
With its traditional connotation, travertine provides a certain minerality which echoes back to the village’s oldest buildings. Its resolutely contemporary implementation with a perpendicular provision offers a new approach to the stone as element of traditional construction.
This constructive appliance provides dynamics to the elevation by capturing the light in many ways, depending on the seasons and the sunlight exposure. The travertine’s light and warm color is related to the brown shades of the front elevation which are inspired from the soil of this agricultural area.
The travertine has been used for all units in the first phase of the planning strategy. It gives a certain consistency in material and color to the entire neighborhood, while its implementation and perception can be presented differently. The outdoor arrangements have also been developed collectively for the five buildings.
The facade is composed of wood, metal and stone, which are materials that have good thermal insulation and a low weight. The continuous insulation maximizes the energy performance. The solar panels placed on the rooftop heat an important volume of water stored in a buried and isolated water tank. This water acts as an energy storage variable and provides heating for the buildings.
Coupled with the solar panel installations this system ensures an energy supply for the heating and the hot water. The air renewal is controlled by a dual-flow system in order to avoid important heat loss. Thus the project reaches an extremely efficient balance using 100% renewable and indigenous energies and reaches the high standard label MINERGIE ®.