The little town of Cully is known for its jazz festival and its magnificent landscape of vineyard terraces overlooking Lake Geneva – yet it is, at the same time, a port and fishing area, as evidenced by the new boatyard which opened in the spring of 2020. Supported by the municipality, which wanted to preserve this traditional activity connected with the lake, the project was developed in discussion with the Lavaux district’s advisory committee, charged with upholding the quality of the built environment in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The boatyard is a small-scale facility primarily dedicated to renovating wooden boats. The building comprises three sections under one roof: services and offices over two levels to the rear, the double-height workshop on the lake side and, at the far end of the complex, a paint booth with its own independent access.
In order to integrate this shed structure within its exceptional site, the building volume is fragmented into two components – façade and roof – echoing the clusters of traditional fishing cabins that line the waterfront. On the long sides, a series of gables are set with high-level triangular windows, which bring light into the workshop without reducing the working area and give the overall design its distinctive rhythm.
On the roof, the repeated pattern of prefabricated modules composed of intermeshed triangles is reminiscent of upturned boats arranged side by side. This structural fragmentation derives from the use of folds in the design, continuing a geometric and structural theme developed by the architects in several previous projects.
Here the folds are not central. As with a boat, the main structure – visible from the inside – comes first, followed by the outer shell. The primary structure of glue-laminated timber marks out the roof ridges, connecting the gables on either side in an alternating pattern: the high point on one side connects to the low point on the other. The zigzag pattern of the trusses between the ridges accentuates the geometry of the folds, creating great latticework structures beneath the pine roof deck.
Below this, the walls are covered with OSB and used as working and fixing surfaces. Supplementing the load-bearing façade walls, an intermediary line of posts marks off the services area and houses the support structures for the lifting system that spans the entire workshop, determining its dimensions. All load distribution elements are visible, providing the building users with optimum flexibility.
On the exterior, this internal framework is echoed in the façade design via the use of two different kinds of wood: vertical elements made of larch contrast with the pine cladding, while the rakes and eaves, also made of larch, offer enhanced weather resistance. On the roof, a simple red glitter-effect waterproofing system provides a plain, elegant finish in a colour echoing that of the village rooftops.
This attention to materials and building detail along with the clearly articulated geometric design effectively and very simply integrate the new structure within the Cully portside. Architecture is helping to preserve a traditional activity in one of the most beautiful landscapes along the Lake Geneva shoreline.
Antoine Robert-Grandpierre Laurent Saurer
David Abarrategui Yagüe
Chantier naval de Moratel Sàrl
Wood engineering Ratio-bois SARL
Lambelet SA Masonry
Camandona SA Waterproofing
Route de Moratel 4, Cully (VD), Suisse Conception
Footprint area 333 m²