Deux Habitations Collectives is a minimal architecture project located in Villars-sur-Glâne, Switzerland, designed by Deschenaux Architectes. The quiet area is facing the countryside. Behind the road, the field is still cultivated, and the trees are still populated with birds, which give the place a feeling of the passing of time. Moreover, the site is close to the city center. This lucky situation demands an ambitious project to build apartment buildings for rental with high-quality materials and spaces while handling the budget. Architectural quality should not be reserved for the owners of their housing. The two similar buildings are situated lengthwise, from north to south, following the need to optimize the plot. This constraint drives the whole project from the structure to the typology of the apartments, as well as the dormer window’s dimensions.
Each floor is composed of two symmetrical apartments. Right after entering an apartment, you can see a long wall that stretches until the south, against which all the rooms are built up. When walking along the wall, you discover the spaces one to one, each of them with its privacy, its function, its opening. In the end, the dining room is immersed in light, and the loggia overlooks the trees and the nearby meadow. The materiality of the project is driven by both a contemporary expression and traditional constructive rules. The composition is classical a base with the garage and the entrance, the main body with two floors, and a top with the attic and its shaped roof. The construction details reveal the same reference to the past. The corners are sculpted like cornerstones.
The rabbets in the openings refer to the classical moldings of a stone building. Another contrast gives richness to the project. The matter is both present and absent somehow. It is present, thanks to the concrete which expresses a heavy and sculpted mineral block. It is however absent, thanks to the openings that hollow out the matter and reveal the context rather than the construction itself. The high and textured glazing of the stairwell allows the space to be filled with the outside atmosphere, the trees and the wind are felt from the inside. The other openings reflect the surroundings and the light variations, thanks to the glass and the stainless steel. Even the roof can merge into the sky. An ethical issue finally guides the project. Every place where a person lives should welcome the inhabitant with some charm and nobility, even a new build.
Here, noble materials have been chosen, which allow for a change over time. The stainless-steel expresses fineness, and the raw oak gives warmth. The idea of nobility is especially found on the top floor, where the spaces get higher, and the elements get taller. Doors and windows, furniture and tiles, everything help to offer the inhabitant a generous place to live. Finally, the feeling of being home begins from the entrance of the building. Thanks to the high glazing of the stairwell, the oaken doors, and the carpet made from natural vegetable fibers, the cozy atmosphere makes you want to get rid of your shoes as soon as you enter this big house.
Photography by Rasmus Norlander