Gigon Guyer

Pré-Babel housing . Geneva

© Joël Tettamanti

Gigon/Guyer Architekten

The construction of apartment blocks of varying heights and different standards on the former Pré- Babel sportsground and park site pursues the idea of concentrated interventions, aimed at retaining as much open green space around and between the buildings as possible.



The first building phase, Pré-Babel, comprised three apartment blocks 1, 2, and 3 with three stories each, offering a total of twenty-eight condominiums for the high-end market segment. For the second phase, Résidence du Parc de Grange-Canal, three taller buildings with standard apartments were planned, also including subsidized housing in accordance with a special stipulation in Geneva’s building regulations. Finding a common architectural language and similar housing typology for all three categories was one of the challenges in developing this park site.

The siting and shape of the buildings create external spaces that are either dotted with trees or left open as lawns. Each apartment type benefits from windows on three or four sides, with views of the expanses of lawn and groups of trees in the park.

The access paths to the buildings 1, 2, and 3 wind through the park and lead to slightly sunken entrance areas. To keep traffic away from the park, the driveways to the garages run underneath it. The entrance hall can be accessed both from the park and directly from the garage. Polished chrome steel parapets open up this space optically, as does the light gray flooring of terrazzo and cast stone incorporating marble chips. The front doors to the apartments are made of dark oak with an equally wide illumination panel to one side. Exposed concrete walls form a contrast to the refined materials used in the staircases to lend the whole an appropriate everyday quality.

The naturally-lit staircases provide access to two or three apartments and one studio on each floor. The apartments have spacious floor plans and a generous ceiling height of 2.7 meters. From each apartment’s entrance area, the space is divided into two main zones: a daytime area with kitchen, dining room, living room, and study, and a nighttime area consisting of bedrooms with connecting bathrooms and dressing rooms. Each unit has a covered balcony and an additional winter garden. One apartment on the top floor of each building has its own private access to the large roof terrace with pavilions.

The building volumes with their composition of horizontal and vertical prefabricated concrete elements are almost classical in appearance. Horizontal gray bands are combined with yellow vertical elements of varying widths, which reference the coloring of the sandstone buildings in Geneva. Sliding windows with aluminium frames alternate with the yellow concrete elements. Reflective glass parapets intensify the play of mirrored trees in the windows and also amplify the impression of the façades forming a ‘geometric fabric interwoven with silver strands.’

Project: Résidence du Pré-Babel, Geneva
Address: Résidence du Pré-Babel
Chemin de Grange-Canal 44 à 48
CH – 1224 Chêne-Bougeries, Geneva, Switzerland
Spatial Programme: Three residential buildings with 24 individually owned apartments
in total (3–7 room apartments with 132-339 m2) and 4 studios,
underground parking with 60 parking spaces.
Competition: December 2003 – January 2004, 1st Prize
Planning/Construction: 2004 – 2008
Client: Frontimmo SA
Chemin de Grange-Canal 50
CH – 1224 Chêne-Bougeries, Geneva
Architecture: Annette Gigon / Mike Guyer, Architects, Zurich
Competition: Gilles Dafflon, Katja Fröhlich
Planning/Construction: Gilles Dafflon (Project Manager),
Matthias Clivio, Christine Jahn, Andréanne Pochon,
Pieter Rabijns, Katja Fröhlich, Michael Wagner
Construction Manager/
Cost Planning:
Roberto Carella Architectes, Geneva
Gross Floor Area (SIA 416): 11‘053 m2
Landscape Architecture: Schweingruber Zulauf Landschaftsarchitekten, Zurich
Structural Engineer: Fiechter Ingénieure SA, Chêne-Bourg
Electrical Engineer: ECE SA, Bernex
Building Services Engineer: Ryser, Eco Sàrl, and Mike Humbert, Geneva
Photography: Joël Tettamanti, Lausanne

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