Cultural center and student housing

Finalist 2nd round

The Concorde sector is located to the west of the Geneva conurbation in its first ring road. It is connected to the main traffic arteries such as the Avenue de l’Ain, in the extension of the Route du Pont Butin. Bordered to the north by the railway, to the west by the Avenue de l’Ain and to the east by the Avenue d’Aïre, this sector is characterised by a triangular urban shape. The development of the district of Concorde is carried out in the wake of architectural competitions and successively implements new housing which finds a durability thanks to the qualification of the sector “A” with the implementation of a large public and cultural program. Concorde will attract visitors from all over the conurbation federated under the banner of the municipality of Vernier in full regeneration.

The points of the triangle in the Concorde sector are strategic poles linking the neighbourhood with the surrounding peri-urban grid. Sector A, the western tip of Concorde, is the densest sector. It brings together a complexity of flows that is rare in the Geneva landscape: a rapid road flow at high altitude via the Ecu viaduct, a dense road flow on the ground, at the crossroads between the Avenue de l’Ain and the Avenue de Châtelaine, and a pedestrian flow intensified by a large multimodal platform (including the CEVA stop and pedestrian crossings). A few metres down, a rail flow with its safety constraints will add a new layer to the complexity already present on the surface.

The new Cultural Centre is therefore taking the figure of a prow in this complex area in order to assert its major role in the future development of the district. The architectural form proposed by the project is the identity of the whole district: a triangle. The built triangle thus created will be the banner of a popular district, as the affirmation of a renewal in coherence with the existing and its history. The triangle that constitutes the CCC is also the simplest and most effective form that can contain the entire programme required in the specifications of this competition.

If it is true that the Cultural Centre must express itself on the Place Chatelaine, the student accommodation must find a quietness conducive to the quality of life of the future inhabitants. The Concordance project proposes to separate these two major entities. The proposed student housing building will then integrate the built framework of the nearby housing. By taking the form of a thin, crossing bar, it will make it possible to integrate the future buildings in sector A in a coherent way with the existing buildings and their collective housing bars. This clear separation between the two programs also allows the two buildings to have a life dissociated in time.

This posture will make it possible to maintain operational autonomy in the construction. Whether in the lifting of construction credits, or in the possible phasing over time, the separation of the two programs allows maximum flexibility.

The ground plan then reveals the possibility of having a multimodal place, that of Chatelaine, and a more secluded and quiet place, between the CCC and the student housing, sheltered from noise and traffic. On this square, students, technicians, artists and visitors will find rest and idleness. This quiet square measuring 70 m x 22 m connects to the Green Voice. It extends to a quiet footbridge that will cross the railway tracks and thus reconnect key ladders for the circulation of bicycles and pedestrians in the greater Geneva area.

Thanks to the typology of the CCC building, the visitor entering the foyer will be able to go down to the restaurant and brasserie which overlook the quiet terraces, far from the Ecu viaduct.

“What identity for a cultural centre in Vernier? “is probably the most crucial question that the Concordance project wishes to answer. It is not a question of reconstructing the Nouvelle Comédie, whose identity is linked to the centre of Geneva, or of developing an alternative theatre programme characteristic of a suburb with a past. The Châtelaine cultural centre must assert its presence in a site with varied and sometimes hidden identities.

The “Concordance” project proposes in its typology a flexibility of future uses. The shape of the entrance foyer makes it possible to respond as much to the arrival of visitors to the large hall as to the small hall. The flexibility of the hotel’s typology will allow the conversion of certain rooms into artist residences or offices. This flexibility is a response to the specifications offered to us in 2015, which will be completed by 2018, when the building opens.

When it comes to the identity of the cultural centre, it is about the possibility of appropriation of a place by its user.

Concordance also proposes to highlight the materiality of the brick to respond to the integration of the new buildings in their environment. Starting from a reflection integrating sustainability and constructive rationality, brick will give this site of Vernier the desired image of a “factory”, a place conducive to creation. The use of brick on the concrete structure of the building allows the CCC to play with light: a set of vertical slats that reacts to the context on a case-by-case basis. Depending on whether the façade of the building is oriented towards the railroad tracks (OPAM constraint), open to the quiet square, or slanted and filtering when it is the face in relation to the Ecu bridge and the passage of vehicles at high speed.

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Art & cultural




Ville de Vernier & Fondation HBM Emile Dupont


18’200 m²



Structural Engineering

SB ingénierie (GE)

Landscape design

Jan Föerster Pully (VD)

Related project

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