The long thin nature of the site suggests a single linear building block with apartments on both sides of a central corridor looking out over the street. A proposal such as this would be too atomising, create an unnecessary distance between neighbors, and result in a scale of housing that overwhelms the individual. Our approach to the urban block is therefore to break up the overall form into small clusters of residential blocks that surround a central courtyard. These blocks are analogous to large houses, a kind of urban villa. In plan each have two units with a double aspect view and are positioned around a central, light filled staircase. The villas are shifted from the datum of the setback line to allow each to be read as a distinct form and address. Heights are varied across the site thereby giving a more human, village type scale to the quarter. The result is a highly porous urban plan that allows for an important degree of intimacy with the community and landscape.
Architecture: Light and Air
The central room in each flat spans the entire width of the block allowing light and air to flow freely from one side to the other. A resident will feel the morning light in the bedroom as well as the evening light in the loggia. On the facade that overlooks the surrounding parkland, a loggia spans then entire width of the flat, allowing the living room and bedrooms to open up onto their own outdoor space. With the seasons this space can be used to extend the rooms, providing a sheltered outdoor space for plants and terrace life. The openings that puncture the facade of the loggia align with generous internal windows and sliding doors, suffusing each room with light. These picture windows frame views of the adjacent landscape and buildings. Each window differs slightly from the next, either in position or size, though within set standards and datums. This makes each room in the entire quarter unique. It also gives the overall window fenestration a hand drawn quality that adds detail and nuance to the facade without costly ornament or articulation.
Landscape: Courtyards and Gardens
There are four types of landscape which provide places for recreation, contemplation and privacy. A shared courtyard sits amidst the centre of each cluster. This is a common area for enjoyment with seating areas amongst flower beds and evergreen Pinus Sylvestris. The courtyard garden of the east block is used as an outdoor play area for the creche. At the base of each block is a strip of hedgerow and, in places, Deschampsia Cespitosa, tall feathery tufted hairgrass. These will provide a degree of privacy and greenery to the ground floor flats. Surrounding the housing are open gardens of lawn and tall fountain grass. These are unstructured areas that provide space and openness for the residents. Cutting through this are paths made from a water bonded gravel, a soft yet durable surface. Within each Loggia there is a space for a private garden of herbs or flowers. These will dot the facade bringing colour and life into the architecture.
- Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
- Use: Residential
- Client: The City of Lausanne
- Status: Competition
- Design Team: Christopher Lee, Martin Jameson, Edouard Bettencourt, Bolam Lee, Simon Whittle