the living poché

Green archipelagos mixed with urbanity – this is the sense of Grand Sacconex. This dialogue between the two contrasting elements of nature and what is built has shaped the fundamental character of the place.

We have striven to generate a living relationship between the site’s natural topography dotted with beautiful trees, and the built volumes. The siting of the existing buildings parallel to the land’s gradient appears to us an appropriate topographical strategy. We have chosen to build upon these existing footprints to allow the adjacent urban park to flow uninterrupted.

By thinking about the buildings as a living “poché” of habitable walls, we have striven to maneuver around and enhance the true protagonist of the project – the shaded enclave of foliage – as a public space. The heights of the two long “walls” help in defining a sense of enclosure, holding the space together.

The poché then releases the landscape towards the corner of the site that faces the Route de Ferney and the proposed tram line. In the wider context, this allows the the park to be re-appropriated for the entire community, connecting it to the neighbourhood’s disparate elements.

A large plinth with a terrace garden further extends towards the Route de Ferney, working as a transition element between nature and the city. It both holds the park and seamlessly integrates with its topography, reconciling opposites of ending and continuation. Through a gap between the built volumes, the park can be accessed from the higher end of the site as well. Furthermore, a bridge reaches out to connect existing pedestrian and cycling paths on two ends of the site, opening up another connection. This provides an alternate safe route for the people, especially the elderly, to cross the main roads across this bridge.

Acting as topographical solutions to the level differences, a horizontal layer of plinths is staggered to negotiate the lay of the land. These house the various public programmes. Patios intermittently punctuate the plinths, acting as transitional elements while opening up to nature.

Towers vertically extrude as  autonomous entities – self referential and multi-programmatic – lending the possibility to be built in isolation. This is advantageous for the phase-wise development of the project, enabling comfortable relocation of residents. Differing heights create visual variations within the ensemble, helping to relate with the scales of the adjacent built fabric. The dense spread of foliage acts at all times as a vertical buffer between the private spaces on the upper floors and the public ground floor.

International Housing Competition in Carantec (the living poché) | date : 2016 | location : Geneva, Switzerland | surface : 45,000 m2 | team : Madhusudhan Chalasani, Mario Galiana, German Müller, Mario Yañez Aller, Carlos Gonzalvo, Niharika Sanyal | client : Carantec Municipality | status : competition