Back in 2001, the city of Clermont-Ferrand was selected to be part of the Europan IV session. The purpose of this urban/architectural contest, open to young students and young architects, was to provide new ideas about the city development in neglected urban areas, located between historic center and outskirts neighborhoods.
Built on the work of Christophe Boyadjan and Patrice Prevel (Atelier de ville en ville), winner of the competition, the city of Clermont-Ferrand developed the idea of a new “quartier latin”. The High School of Art, the International University House, the Law School, where already on the site, so it was all about creating a link between the Historic town and the modern university district.
While Christophe Boyadjan and Patrice Prevel were in charge of the urban design, they also identified isolated and unbuilt plots. They imagined a new form of buildings, towers, positioned in a narrow strip of land, completing the voids left during urban extension over the years.
In 2013, two of those plots were designated to be the home of an architectural contest. Logidôme, a social landlord, held the contest, which required to respect Atelier de ville en ville’s prescriptions (height, form, etc…) while creating 75 rental apartments.
Rauch / Mouraire / Ressouche and Foury / Roul, 2 local architecture studios, won the contest with CDR Construction, a construction company also based in Clermont-Ferrand.
5 years later, the two towers (Totem 2 and Totem 3) stand out in the urban area. Facing the “Chaine des Puys”, a recently added landscape to the Unesco World Heritage list, they symbolize the new student neighborhood. Each residence has two parts: a low building and a slim tower. They both offer wide terraces, protected by siding and through shutters. The general tone is grey, in reference to the local volcanic stone, while you can see vivid orange and red through the primary skin, depending on the occupant’s wish to open or close his outdoor spaces. This dynamic skin provide shade and soften the light to the apartments, which are generously glazed.
The new neighborhood offers new public spaces including the Louise Bourgeois square, facing both the Totem 3 and The High School of Art. The Old “Tour Pascal” is included in the urban planning, therefore creating a link between the old and the new. Both the architectural project and the urban layout allows new activities to take place. The ground floor is partially occupied by a restaurant / brewery, while most of the streets are now car free and open to pedestrians.