Creating an ‘eco-neighborhood’: Les Passerelles in Cran-Gevrier
Global harmony and lasting coherence
Cran-Gevrier’s ‘Les Passerelles’ district brings new life to a former industrial wasteland. Along the river Thiou, where a paper mill once stood, an ambitious 45,000 square meter urban renewal project which focuses strongly on respect for the environment is bringing new housing and economic activity.
AER Architects took on the task of designing two multi-family residency units in the northern sector of this ‘eco-district’. Architects Arnaud Lavier & Frédrique Blanchard, teamed up with designers Thomas Gadesaude and Yvan Debrosse as well as urban planners and landscapers to construct the two residential buildings.
The architects drew their inspiration from the land that surrounds the buildings. Natural vegetation divides the northern sector and southern sector of the site. Near the entrance to the north tall trees demarcate a pedestrian area. Between the two buildings a garden has been constructed. Each residence is part of a global harmony and a lasting coherence of the site, according to a statement issued by the architects.
Unique play of light and shade
The team understood that a sober appearance was required, in line with the reverence for nature that typifies the project. The buildings also needed to reflect the history and vegetation of the unique site. The buildings are brought to life with striking elements such as loggias and terraces that break up their mass and verticality. “The open gardens on the mall and the promenade along the Thiou are accessible to all residents,” explains Arnaud Lavier. “Visual transparency from the mall to the banks of the Thiou was one of the key objectives.”
To achieve this, each building is smaller than the preceding one and the colours change from each building to the next, creating a natural fading effect towards the river. For visual consistency, the base of each building is treated in a similar manner. Natural light is allowed to filter through the sheltered premises in the back. Arnaud Lavier: “The effect created by using Trespa® Meteon® Metallics creates a striking visual animation through reflections. This allows for the unique play of light and shade between the residential buildings and surrounding nature.”
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