Urban housing and crèche
The project for a new building of 17 apartments and a crèche for 80 children was commissioned by the Fondation Ville de Genève pour le Logement Social and won in a competition held in 2006 in association with Jaccaud Spicher Architectes Associés SA.
The new building seeks to mediate between the consistent urban texture of the street and the significant presence of adjacent existing buildings by absorbing a number of spatial and volumetric elements, such as the podium, arcade and facetted tower forms. The building is inserted into the existing urban structure of arcades, covered walkways, alleys and yards, with a variety of openings and routes that create a sense of permeability within a dense city block. Like a puzzle assembled from a number of building blocks carefully placed together, it is rooted in its place in the city, yet seemingly universal in its urban character.
The precast concrete elements that form the facade have a polished finish and are stacked in large T and M shapes to create a monolithic surface that evokes a sense of permanence and solidity while increasing daylight penetration and creating continuity with adjacent buildings. Canvas blinds and light bronze anodized windows provide a further layering to the surface, as the internal life of the building is displayed within the subtly shifting order of the tectonic facade.
As in the small courtyards prevalent in the St. Gervais district access to the apartments is via an alley leading to a small open court, with gallery access providing a shared semi-private threshold between apartments. Apartments are organised around the perimeter on all four sides, with central halls connecting the principal rooms in a continuous spatial sequence.
A long view through the crèche foyer is created to the rear courtyard, a shaded and secure playspace for the children. The activities of the crèche are brought into the view of the passer-by at ground level, while at the second floor level a full length, open sided veranda links each of the playrooms together to form a gallery of activity and energy. Audible from the street below when opened and shaded, the veranda makes a lively addition to city life.