Tag Archives: tips

Lausanne Dimanche

These days, lots of people have asked me for addresses and ideas for sunday and evening shopping. And so, here is the list: Lausanne Dimanche

Architecture and complexity

One of the things that create a great built environment is complexity. When facing big projects, most of the architects have tried to recreate a complexity in their buildings, with a big effort and not very satisfying results.


Moshe Safdie, Habitat 67 (image: wikipedia)


Frank Gehry, MIT Stata Center (image: wikipedia)

Another option allows a better result with lower effort. Instead of planning every single element, we can just design some “seeds” of the building, then wait. Even when seeds are simple, the result turns often amazingly complex.

An example of this kind of architecture is the Quinta Monroy housing project by Elemental.


Quinta Monroy, just before the arrival of the dwellers (image: ArchDaily)


The same view, some months later. dwellers have arrived, and have modified houses to match their needs. As a result, all houses are different from each other.  (image: ArchDaily)

For further reading:

Shared Space

Two kind of space exist: The highway, regulated by signs, and the public realm, regulated by social rules. But lots of public realms are designed as highways.

source: shared space

Flexible housing

Your son is getting older and wants a home of his own?

You are starting a new business and need some space to work and receive clients, but cannot afford to rent a proper office?

You like flatsharing but still want your privacy?

Flexible housing can be the solution!

Here are some examples (from Cool Town Studios)

The new American dream, an office full of employees by day that transforms into a home by night.

Art gallery by day, home by night, thanks to:
– A revolving wall/door that separates the main gallery/workplace from the private section of the house by day, opens it up by night.
Moving panels that hide your, ahem, flat-panel TV, in not one, but two ways.
– A convertible client couch that transforms into a guest bed.

Condos with built-in rental suites:
Here are some of his key factors for success:
1. A separate door to the corridor, or the outside;
2. Pre-wiring and possible venting for the small kitchen area, which can be located in a closet;
3. Very nominal parking requirements for the ‘secondary suite’. If a normal parking requirement is applied, it won’t work. We agreed to 1 space for every 4 units;
4. Some common laundry facilities in the buildings, since these units, unlike most others we build around here, do not have ‘in-suite’ facilities.”

Flying walkways: Breitenfurterstraße 114 in Wien

Something I like in modern architecture was the possibility to have open distribution spaces, creating a feeling of openness even in compact, inner-city blocks.

Today I suggest you this project in Wien by Helmut Wimmer, in which walkways and stairways create a strange multi-level landscape that connects the housing blocks and gives access to the residences.

Protection against the railway noise: Lausanne Guesthouse

Another good exemple of protection of a building from noisy infrastructures  is given by the Lausanne Guesthouse, designed by Patrick Chiché.

In this building, all the services (stairways and bathrooms) are located along the reailway line, while living and sleeping rooms are all on the opposite side.

A resumé of the project is available here.

protection against the motorway noise: Croisset Student House

The Croisset Student House is a good example of how to protect a building from the noise of a motorway and give at the same time a public image to the building.

The complex is made of 3 residential blocks, oriented perpendicularly to the motorway, and a continuous screen which runs between the blocks and the motorway. The screen is made by two 30 cm walls, separated by a 3 meters void, which contains the stairways and elevators.

Photos of this building can be found here, and a video can be found here.

(source: architecture studio)

How to create a private space without using fences

This image (Geneva, square Pradier, via Microsoft Virtual Earth) shows how to create a calm square and give privacy to a block without using fences or corner buildings. The four external building act as a screen and separate the square from the through traffic of the surrounding roads. Access to the backside of the external buildings is still possible by two straight alleys that run behind the external buildings. The two internal buildings separate these alleys from the central square: to reach the square from the exterior of the block, two turn are always necessary, one from the surrounding roads to the alleys, and a second one from the alley to the square.

Fast-recharging electric buses

(video: a supercapacitor bus recharges in Shanghai)

As gas prices are getting higher and higher, the need to find other alternatives to gas-powered buses becomes more and more urgent. High frequency bus lines have no problem in this conversion, as they can be turned  into trolleybus lines without excessive cost, but this reconversion can be problematic for low frequency lines.

For this kind of lines, a solution may be the use of frequently,fast-recharging electric buses. Instead of kilometers of bus overhead wire, this kind of buses will require a network of recharging stations, each one being basically a short section of trolleybus overhead wire.

Two variants of this system exist, and differ mainly for the electricity storage system.

The most ancient one was the Gyrobus, experimented in the 50s in the cities of Yverdon, Gent and Kinshasa. In this variant, electricity is stored in a flywheel turning at 2000-3000 rpm. As the bus plugs into the grid, the wheel is put in motion by an electric engine. When the bus unplugs, the engine turns into a dynamo that takes back the energy stored in the flywheel and sends it to the engine. A gyrobus needed to recharge every 5-6 km, and a recharge could take from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.  The high mass and spin of the flywheel of the gyrobus affected significally its behaviour on street, making Gyrobus rides smoother than average bus rides.

A new version involves the use of supercapacitors, batteries that could be recharged in a very short time. Its performance are similar to the gyrobus’s ones, the main difference being the absence of the flywheel and its consequences on buses’s beahviour.  This version is currently operating in Shanghai.

(sources: TRAVYS, City Transport, Proaktiva, Ars Technica)

Smart growth goes to western Lausanne: Les jardins de Prélaz

Once victim of urban sprawl, western Lausanne is organizing its growth with the principles of New Urbanism and Smart Growth. One of the examples of this trend is the “jardins de Prélaz” complex.

(image: Microsoft virtual Earth)

Built on the site of a former bus depot, the complex is made of different buildings, designed by different architects, and can be divided in 3 different areas:

1) The Square

this is the entrance door of all the complex: it hosts the transit stops, a supermarket and a pharmacy.

The transit stops, seen from the square.

2) The Street Front:

The public image of the complex, it follows the street alignment and the average height of the surrounding buildings. The ground floor hosts commerces and public services, and has a different texture than the above, residential floors.

3) The Gardens:

from the square, a lane leads to the Gardens, a group of row houses organized into small courtyards and small gardens.

In this area of the complex, most buildings have external stairs and corridors.

Stairs and corridors are also on the backside of the street front buildings.

view of one of the courtyards.

View of the lane, looking towards the square.

(source: Lausanne Architectures)