3rd Prize
Year 2011

Geneva - La Praille, competition Pont Rouge

The transport infrastructures surround a new hub of development associated with the East-West axis of Croix Verte. The area emerges in connection with the train station and encourages the development of the Croix. The urban fabric links the districts of the area to one another and allows pockets nature to enter in.

1. Forêt Salèvoise (Salèvoise forest)

Salèvoise forest is inspired by the landscapes of Salève, emblem of the great Genevan landscape. It is mainly made up of indigenous species such as beeches and pines. The soil is erratically strewn with boulders. This type of vegetation forms a compact forest, which light travels through to create bright undergrowth.

2. Boisements d’adret (Adret afforestation)

The hillside forest is characterised by a barely covered soil and light broken up by branches. Trunks form a colonnade area.

3. Boisements urbain (urban afforestation)

The urban forest is a reinterpretation of a beech wood in an urban environment. Large branches and the shade that they provide give rise to an area of interaction between city and nature.

4. Urban alignments

The alignments structure the promenade and the Grand Lancy avenue. High stems allow harmonisation with the architecture.

5. Urban-rail landscape

The urban-rail landscape proposes a reinterpretation of the complex range of plants developing between the rails. This vegetation is mainly characterised by a large number of shrubs at a stage of young growth.

The Pont-Rouge site, located on the wooded hillside of Lancy, meets the transversal axis of Croix Verte, the guiding image of the Etoile district. This space is understood as a major link between different urban activities and forms (concentration of important axes, multi-modal platform, business areas, residential areas, etc.) between large landscapes representing the identity of the region and Genevan urban spaces.

Strong functional and quality connectivity between these various areas is indispensable for the concrete expression of the guiding image of Croix Verte. Fluidity of movement and connections is sought after: the Promenade des Jeunes plays a fundamental role here.  The Promenade des Jeunes is a new point between the large axes of communication, it accompanies distant perspectives and establishes visual and physical continuity from the East to the West, anchored from one part to the other by the Place de l’Etoile and the Place de Gare. Between these two extremities, there is a string of spaces with differentiated uses which welcome all of the diversity and richness of urban practices, amongst which the Jardin (Garden) des Grandes Pierres is the most important.

Simple, elegant and carefully designed buildings are laid above an interconnected network of public urban spaces. Conceptually, these buildings can be seen as sculpted and carved in the natural stone of Salève which rises up against the town and oversees, in complete peace, the three roofs and the activity in the street. Under the stone towers, businesses are arranged all along the public spaces and therefore create an urban landscape offering strong axial views and connections forming compositions which are as classic and well-proportioned as contemporary.

The «Jardin des Grandes Pierres» will be an oasis of tranquillity in the middle of the very lively area which will offer some calmness to employees of the offices occupied during the day, and a family destination for residents at the weekend. These will be the green lungs of the project and a haven of peace next to dense and rapid flows of people: a place for pleasure and link area to extensive nature.

At the moment of the design of the buildings, it was important to create a link between the expression of the façade and the interior spaces, and to see all buildings as the whole of an arrangement, almost like part of a large sculpture. Inspired by the rhythm of the large windows and stonework of neighbouring constructions, the buildings seem to be draped in lace, punctuated by the jetties of Jura limestone. All together, the scale, materiality and rhythm of the screen of stone reference the homes of Carouge as well as the classic proportions of Genevan architecture.

It is planned that the «Place de la Gare» (Train station square) will be a vibrant area of activity, and will operate with extended opening hours and therefore offer a service appreciated as much by travellers as by residents. The employees of the area prefer to dine and have supper at Pont Rouge, given the excellent offering and the pleasant atmosphere.

The stone facades of all buildings are thought out to reference the glacial location of Geneva, situated between the sedimentary limestone of the Jura and the metamorphic rocks of the Alps. The buildings, like the limestone boulders of the Jura, form a complex material alternating between open and solid parts, which reveal an opening of a shining polished window. The facades are designed as modular systems allowing maximum flexibility. The main element of the façade consists of a fine lattice of parts of vertical and horizontal stone. For the shapes of the largest buildings, parts have a height of two stories, giving the sense of a human scale through simple forms.