The objective of a new attractive density inside the residential area of Montreux and the possibility of building an urban centrality represent the guidelines of this project while determining its key points: the origin of a system of structures able to dialog amongst themselves while spilling over into the surrounding landscape. They are a network of connections, like a transposition, with fibers denser than those of historic paths. They become a web of fluxes, impulses of connection between the buildings and the neighborhood. They are the creation of a diffused system of public shared spaces among the residences; the system of connections and the territory able to generate centrality.
In connection with debates on the opportunity of a reasoned urban density, in opposition to the “twentieth century” planning system, the new buildings of this inhabited landscape design an urban layout along weaving lines. They are like synapses of living, or a continuous connection, uninterrupted, among the parts of the same system.
The search for a new city layout is interrelated to the neighboring realities of village (Chailly, Clarens and Baugy) where historicized architecture presents itself in a continuous dialog with the landscape, becoming centrality on the territory.
And it is here, becoming centrality, that the project finds its first affirmation. The placement of the area Aux Grands Prés at the north of the city makes it a possible “access point” to the urban territory of Montreux, in the point where the countryside seems to give itself over to the city. Centrality means this as well; interweaving an inhabited space able to come to life with an architectural and functional character serving the territory, between them and the landscape. It is also inserting the architecture inside the existing urban fabrics understood as a junction able to generate successive levels of interaction with the place: a virological architecture as Wiel Arets defined in his travel toward the contemporaneity with which he treated the conviction: “unlike medicine, architecture does not have any intention to take the city back to its original state. Medical or surgical intervention is verified while architectural intervention in the city is not”.
The new architectures of the “triplicity” of form, figure with three faces on the landscape, are arranged along an axial system of synapses, making up an urban network between the project area and the adjacent zones: the neighborhood. The spaces that this interweaving generates, therefore, become the vacancies where the citizen can regain possession of the territory through their multi-functionality, that which we can call a self-management of the inhabited space, the self-management of its times: social stages.
Ordering the structures along the line of movement of the synapses means generating a complete structure. It is ordered fragmentation of the inhabited space where fragment does not constitute discord when the origin resides in the order of the completed sentence. Homogeneity of the intervention avoids estrangement of singular structures.
To talk about social stage signifies the definition of a space of the city as a comparison between the inhabitant and the place. The relationship of contact between landscape and new structures is composed of volumetries at the ground floor that moving along the fabric generator of the project, show themselves as an extrusion of the landscape at various levels, as if it was to open in a series of circumstances to welcome them in its organicity.
The liberated space between the multi-functional structures on the ground floor creates the area where twenty-five equipped cells define the spaces allocated to free time, in addition to the traditional apartment, house and garden. In these cells, social vegetable gardens contribute to the origin of a naturbanization, or the production of a portion of green city controlled by the citizens, as they are the first to recognize their own needs. There will be spaces of the residential area intended as a market, spaces as “a place to meet, chat, play, fight, envy, court and feel proud”, then playgrounds for children, pétanque grounds, landscaped green areas and shady areas like city forests. Facing onto these shared spaces, there are structures on the ground floor of the buildings offering services to the neighborhood like café, a bistrot, small commercial spaces, places for vegetable garden maintenance, market activity, artisan shops and atelier.
The covered area is equal to 17% of the total project area, demonstrating how much intervention is aimed at maintaining a balance with the landscape in this part of the city.
The residential structures, as if balanced above these volumes of public functionality, generate a second zone of built-up space that sees its development on three levels. The multiplicity of the typologies (permanent living, economic living, protected living, temporary living) allows the attainment of that flexibility and social mixité necessary for a new vision of living where the risk of a mute aggregate is avoided. In the total of eleven architectural synapses, the buildings S1 and S3 are planned to house the Nursery school and Kindergarten in a part of the lot where the remodeled hilly area allows the creation of patios as protected spaces for the schools. In the north area of the lot, building S11, Neighborhood cultural center, represents the willingness to connote the urban intervention of a space serving the whole community as a connecting point between both the project area and the neighborhood, the neighborhood and the city. Entering into the ground, it allows the exploitation of the covering as a projection of the landscape on what is built.
The study of a new attractive density makes up the guideline of the project that aims at determining new inhabitable spaces. Inside the project area, in concession with the adjoining portions of territory that makes up the interested area, the new buildings of this urban landscape design an inhabited layout along weaving lines like synapses of living. The term synapse goes back to its original meaning from the Greek συναπτειν (synàptein), composed of συν (with) and απτειν (touch), or better “connect”: continuous communication among the parts of the same system.
The search for this new interweaving of the city in relationship to the village realities (Chailly and Clarens first of all) takes this urban design toward a multiplicity of shared elements that are empty areas between the structures. These urban places have the task of regenerating the concept of roads and public squares in the interest of presenting themselves to the inhabitant again who becomes the first actor on the social stage of the city.
To build is to put in order; to organize an enunciation according to the grammatical and syntactic rules of a language and put in order is also to make something predictable. Things are in order if they act as if we think they will, or if they can be left aside in the planning of the actions. Where words or forms become disjointed by way of their deconstruction, they tend to estrange themselves from one another. The deconstruction of predictability shapes the evolution of the contemporary landscape and its perception of the de-constructed city-landscape. Forms, times and uses of becoming substantiated render the places disorderly, first unpredictable in their evolution and then unrecognizable in their realization.
Ordering the structures along the line of movement of the synapses generates a complete structure, the ordered fragmentation of the inhabited space. But fragment does not constitute discord when the origin resides in the order of the completed sentence. Homogeneity of the intervention avoids estrangement of singular structures: the real danger of a silent aggregation. In this new portion of the city, the structures present themselves in dialog; they confront themselves in order to express themselves in a common language.
Network and centrality
And it is exactly the new urban layout, woven on this area that is destined to be grassland that generates the dialog between the new structures and the landscape, defining a network in the centrality of the intervention. It is an urban network able to connect the structures with the neighboring areas (Baugy, Chailly and Clarens), creating an area Aux Grands Prés like a new attractive centrality for the city of Montreux. The buildings face one another with their various points and elevations, toward the surrounding entities: the hill to the west with the design of the landscape and its punctiform structures, the hillsides to the east with the Châtelard castle and the mountains above it dominating the landscape.
The new architectures of the triplicity of form, figure with three “faces” on the place, move along the line of synapses generating the space of an uninterrupted synaptic urban fabric, toward a succession of multi-functional environments. It is a web designed like a reference to the layout of the surrounding landscape.
The “urban weaving” designed by the synapses aims at creating a connection to the reality of the village, where the historicized structures design routes and spaces gathered between the collective and private, finding their order in a common language. Not order in a geometric static condition of straight lines but rather a “sentence finished by time,” constructed over the years by organicity and function.
We talked about social stage to define the city space along which and in which the inhabitant finds confrontation and participation with the place. The contact between the new structures and the terrain is the standard space along which the stages are placed in circumstances and multiple functions as an answer to the current total absence.
In this reshaping of the inhabited landscape, the structures represent the interconnection of man with his living. The buildings are balanced on a common ground floor, with activities serving the residences and the neighborhood. They are an extrusion of the landscape that welcomes them as if it was open to contain their organicity. It is exactly the organicity of the territory that allows these structures to move in height variability. The visitor is presented with buildings whose arms are encompassed in the terrain, green terraces on the landscape determining the unity between hill and the constructed and covers that stand until allowed, moved by legitimate curiosity, to make out the horizon of Lac Léman from the predetermined points.
The service structures of the neighborhood follow the fluid movement of the synapses. The structures then become connection, a synaptic system among the multi-functional 25 green cells, recovering the broken line of their profiles as if to become, at a glance, a single thing. Two multi-floor sectioned spaces are then determined, the first made up of the terrain, its cells and the service structures; the second, as if balanced above them on the landscape, is made up of the residences and their three floors. Each of the neighborhood service functions are situated near the various equipped cells. Near C15 and C19 there are commercial spaces, café, a bistrot and small shops. In the center of the area, facing cells C9, C10, C12 and C21, there are spaces aimed at work, garden maintenance and management of the market.
Above the volumes reserved for public functions, structures in cement and glass, these residences are arranged three per floor and distributed from a central space that, from the level of the inhabited cells, projects out to the top of the building to serve the three residential levels. The volumetries of the buildings are covered with wooden panels, a memory of the place with its structures that present the historicity of a dialog between these materials. They design a new fabric of this fragment of the city: inhabited synapses.
On the fronts of the buildings facing south, narrow terraces are protected with the help of drapes along the perimeter track that reach the three heads. There, loggias a few meters deep make up the observatory of the landscape, like from a theater “stage” toward an uninterrupted show in which the surrounding mountains and castles are the performers.
In the synapses co-exist different ways of life and dweller tipologies: delving deeper into the real definition of inhabited space, the project is based on the variability of functions and purposes (common space on the floor, co-storage and co-space on the ground floor as well as the eventual co-habitation of various subtypes). The primary aim is to find, in every synapse and cell, a strategic shared articulation between usage, technique and space.
Individual collective living (for a total of 61 dwelling units), evolution of the collective housing system that repossesses the private dominion like space of an individual life while at the same time interactive with the various intermediary stairs, the common space in the winter gardens on the floor and public space in cells and services on the ground floor.
Clustered individual living (for a total of 11 dwelling units), evolution of the individual housing system where the most intimate characteristics are, such as gardens and private spaces on the floor, while at the same time not giving up the potentials of new attractive living systems, meeting places and cultural exchanges.
The common objectives of the new living forms are:
Longitudinal development in façade, which favours a more diaphanous and illuminated style and gives the appearance of complementary “non concrete” places (internal-external galleries, patios, covered terraces).
Closeness and integration among structures, common spaces (winter gardens, terraces on the floor), public spaces (urban cells and service structures on the ground floor) and private spaces (housing).
Illumination and relationship of the internal-external spaces with the planning of housing independent on three sides with the possibility of shaping the visual relationship between the structure and the landscape through the use of terraces, filtered loggias of sliding wooden panels and drapes along a perimeter track.
Flexibility in the internal housing spaces through the use of sliding panels, greenhouse zones, and multiple connections.
Social mixité through typological variety, individuation as an invariant of the housing system of the service core thus allowing an articulation of different layouts responding to the diverse social realities and guaranteeing the possibility to vary the percentages of mixité.
The variability of dwelling typologies starts from the implementation of elemental schemes based on the disposition of fixed elements (pipe shafts) and variable spaces, then it’s based on the strategic positioning of service cores (sanitation, kitchens, technical installations etc) and to the variable “modeling” of a single and fluid space defined by sliding panels.