Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LAN Architecture: Terres Neuves Apts.

Designed by LAN Architecture, this unnamed apartment complex is planned for the Terres Neuves District of Begles, France. Much like Le Corbusier’s famous explanation of his Unite d’Habitation project, Terres Neuves is based on inserting living units into a steel frame – “like wine int0 a wine rack”, as Corbu put it.
The first stage was to ’sculpt’ the volumes in order to exploit their urban potential and intrinsic spatial qualities. We directed our research towards a hybrid typology combining the house and the apartment.
The principle underlying our approach was that of stacking containers, and careful study of habitat modes, climatic conditions and the sun’s trajectory throughout the year suggested the way to organise this. The project’s column-slab supporting structure has a system of lightweight facades providing ultra-high performance insulation levels.

Outside of the technological advances allowing for a lighter strucutre and cladding [or at least the appearance / effect of 'lighter], LAN has deviated from Unite d’Habitation by creating a rather significant outdoor terrace space for each unit [see the diagram below], which can be closed of with a sliding screen of some kind. The idea here is that this gives the building distinctly different personalities as the seasons the change.
During the summer, residents are expected to leave the screens on the terrace open, allowing cooling breezes to permeate the building and get into the block’s internal courtyard. When temperatures drop, the terraces can then be enclosed – becoming a kind of three-season room, I would think, while also protecting that interior courtyard from any harsh winter winds.
The project is described as ‘green’ by the designers, but I’m not sure what that refers to – other than the terraces / ventilation, and the insulation described in the quote above.

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