Urban Picturesque

Communaux d'Ambilly masterplan

Thônex, Geneva


Urban Picturesque

This urban project represents a quest for shape by outlining parameters rather than having recourse to the formal, classical principles of composition. It was carried out in collaboration with the firm Kaisersrot which was based at the ETHZ at the time. The manipulation of the data was done with an IT tool made to measure, using specific parameters:

  • Abandoning the matrix for picturesque views, thus giving the feeling of belonging to a community. The element of the picturesque advocates the idea of not presenting an object as a thing in itself, but rather as a system of relationships in a physical context with no unique points of view.
  • Buildings of differing heights to minimize the loss of light for buildings and public spaces.
  • Well-defined connections to link the unit to the principal buildings bordering the site.
  • Common islands which house activities, have no geometrical relationship with the residential buildings are situated on the ground floor and connected to the public space.
  • South-facing orientation of the main facades to embody a principle of active facade and to give priority to natural lighting in the apartments.
  • The specific manner of design of public space: the park, the inner court, the forest, the open area on the boundary.

This strategy aims to avoid the temptation of "shape for shape’s sake". The ultimate vision is one of maximum sunlight for each building while keeping the distance to public transport to a minimum.

group8, Urban Picturesque, Thônex, Geneva, 2008

Commission type

Masterplan study