Student House at Champel, Geneva
Location Geneva, Switzerland
Date 2017

Competition by invitation

Gross floor area 6'411 m²

Julien Charmion-Henry

Romain D'Incau

Karoline Endres

Lucas Reif

Djuna Spagnoli

The University of Geneva has seen significant increases in requests for student housing that it cannot meet in full. The University Student Housing Foundation (FULE) thus launched a competition for the construction of a residential block of around a hundred rooms, including as many 4-bedroom apartments as possible. The plot is situated between Avenue de Champel and Rue Lombard in Geneva.

The proposed project exploits the plot’s triangular form, which is directly extrudedto maximise its potential. By this very direct approach, the project optimises the efficient and economical use of this contextual and geometrical basic fact by seeking the beauty of the given shape. The straight lines of this simple form minimize the facade’s surface area in an appropriately economic and ecological manner.

The treatment of the triangle’s tip and base determines the relation of the architecture to the context. The project features a prow sculpted by balconies on the Place Edouard de Claparède and an inverted base to link with the future adjacent building. This folding of the form at its base brings facade and light into the building’s core. The fold occurs where the triangle’s width becomes disadvantageous. It also resolves the issue of direct views over the neighbouring plot.

Each of the 8 floors has 16 bedrooms (one 5-bed flat, two 4-bed flats, one 3-bed flat), making a total of 128 student bedrooms in the block. On the first floor, the doctors’ surgeries planned by the client have a layout similar to the student accommodation. The plan is simple, rational and easily adaptable as required.

The building is devised as a large structure able to accommodate different functions and user types. The plan’s rational successive layers, the choice of facade and the consistent layouts ultimately makes the plan highly flexible. The building offers pleasant living conditions, encourages strong social links among the residents and promotes a positive identity. In some respects, its silhouette recalls the famous Flatiron Building in New York.