Text description provided by the architects. Located between the historic center of Annemasse in the French Alps, and its train station, Chablais-Gare district was the subject of an overall project, with joint programming, including social housing, apartments for homeownership, serviced residence, hotel, offices, shops and cinema.
The complex designed by Ameller, Dubois & Associés stems from a base dedicated to various commercial activities, and topped by 8 levels of apartments, which creates continuous activity in and out the neighbourhood.
The residential buildings consist of two entities. The lower and mid levels are compact, characterised by smooth horizontal lines, with balconies and loggias punctuating the corners. The upper floors crown the composition with an arrangement of simple volumes. This duality between the appearance of the quiet looking lower levels and the more extrovert upper levels is underlined by the difference in the choice of their materials.
The upper floors are covered with 13 cm wide larch slats, mounted vertically or horizontally. The currents floors are covered with laminated panels in light gray and beige polyester. The business base is largely glazed, unified by a horizontal strip at 3,70m from the ground, and its roof is planted.
While the appearance of the building may seem identical on all four sides, the intricate volume of its “crown” actually differentiates the look of the complex from every angle. This wooden sculpted shape diverts the notion of attic - usually modestly hiding from the street views - asserting itself as an architectural event.