Subtle diversity in new housing blocks

13 Jun 2014

Tatiana Bilbao designs a series of residential towers for La Confluence, Lyon

In 2007, the city of Lyon began to reactivate La Confluence, a former industrial city district. Herzog & de Meuron were invited to coordinate the second phase of this extension with a new master plan. Although continuity, sobriety and homogeneity of materials are the driving forces behind this master plan, there is a desire to create diversity within the building blocks. In 2013, several architects were invited and selected to design the buildings. Tatiana Bilbao was commissioned to design three buildings of which two are social housing buildings (Bâtiment 3 and Bâtiment 7), and one is a housing building for private acquisition (Bâtiment 8).

The social housing Bâtiment 3 is a compact volume located on the eastern side of the Ilot A3, along the Rue Smith. The simple and radical volume was sculpted by a play of terraces that nestle on the corners, sometimes superimposed, thus bringing playfulness to the facades and enabling social interaction between neighbours. Inside, these terraces are covered with wooden cladding; this sensible texture contrasts with the stark concrete facade and gives the impression that the volume was carved to expose the content of the building.

The volume houses twenty-one apartments distributed around an internal circulation core. There are three typologies of apartments and each of these typologies have various configurations, but all are located on corners and are conceived in two split-levels: common areas are located at entry level while bedrooms are located a half-level above. The main entrance to the building faces east towards Rue Smith and a commercial space is located on the south facade. Service rooms face the block's private courtyard towards the north and west.

Bâtiment 7 is an intermediate social housing building located on the corner of Rue Smith and Esplanade François Mitterrand, a large public square. It is a rather thin building, enabling most apartments to face both north and south, with living rooms opening up to large terraces above the public square in the south, and private areas oriented towards the quieter courtyard. The circulation core is outdoors and exposed, offering views to the courtyard and also marking the facade with a strong presence. 

The southeastern corner features double-height balconies, visually linking this project with Bâtiment 3. Another architectural element of bâtiment 7 links it with its neighbour, Bâtiment 8: window frames on the outer facade are marked with a wide chamfered windowsill, cast on site, sculpted in the mineral facade. The main entrance to the building faces north towards the courtyard and all service spaces are located to each side of the lobby. A commercial space occupies the southern facade, opening up towards the public square.

Bâtiment 8 is a private acquisition housing building. It marks an important angle as it links the neighbourhood's main street Cours Charlemagne and the public square Esplanade François Mitterrand in the southwestern corner of the A3 block. This angle is rounded-up in order to soften up circulation, facilitate the link between the two public spaces, and lighten up the massive volume. This subtle volumetric move is reflected in the opposite angle of the building, in the northeast, and fluidities the courtyard circulation. Moreover, these round angles give way to unusual interior spaces; the balconies on the southwestern corner enjoy a curved framed view of the marina and the Fourvière hill beyond. The other two angles of the building are straight and consolidate its relation to the neighbouring buildings while assuring the continuity of the block.

The light-coloured mineral facade follows a marked and rational structure, in reciprocity with its neighbour Bâtiment 7. In a specific and regular style, the quietly elegant facade features a subtle play: windows on the outer facade are marked with a wide prefabricated chamfered windowsill, which progressively widens as the floors go up. Two outdoor and exposed circulation cores are located on the northern facade, offering views to the courtyard and marking the facade with a strong presence. Service spaces are located to each side of the lobbies on the ground floor towards the courtyard while two large commercial spaces occupy the southern facade, opening up towards the public square.

Key Facts


Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team