Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Sow Geneva in Switzerland designed using AutoCAD and 3DS MAX
April 8th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
The owner commissioned SAOTA to design his Geneva base for his family home and office. Passionate about design and architecture, this is the 4th home SAOTA have undertaken for him. The others, in Cape Town and Paris and one in Senegal are manifest statements of exciting, even provocative contemporary architecture.
“The dramatic triangular shaped site, with very restrictive design and building parameters made SAOTA come up with a reductive design that developed as a result of carving and sculpting away forms from a triangular footprint’, explained Stefan Antoni.
Partner Greg Truen describes the building as ‘an expression of an emerging African aesthetic in the sure way it plays with texture, materials and the way it connects to the exterior’. ‘Conceptually, Africans have a very significant view of shelter’ he continues. ‘For us, the flat roof is more essential than the vertical wall. That’s all we need. But, with a harsher environment, Europeans have distanced themselves from the outdoors and are used to living with more barriers between them and nature’.
On either side of the 20 meter wide channel sits the two portions that make this house, the main house and the annex. What link the two buildings are the cinemas, spa, auditorium and garages underneath. The main house is a combination of round edged cubes and triangular masses that form the L-shape of the living spaces. A double volume living area with a curved wall on the façade facing the lake, flows into a dining area and kitchen on the ground floor and bedrooms, a lobby and en-suite’s on the top level. The top floors are accessed by a glass cylinder encased lift.
The annex houses a guest suite and what unifies the two are their materiality and spacial relationship to each other, making the gap in between read rather like a pause in time as opposed to an empty space.
The beaten stainless steel gate and polished stainless steel fence posts, prepare one for the understated elegance that is the character of this house. The main entrance sits between a sloped façade and a stone clad wall. The sloped façade reflects the triangular nature of the site, giving the house an organic dynamic in its dark grey Alucobond and glass finish. The main entrance imitates the gate in its beaten stainless steel finish and the chandore stone of the external feature wall, warms the hard edge the glass, steel and Alucobond give. The garage doors and external walls are finished in Balau timber that will eventually weather into a lovely silver patina.
The second building, the annex, is finished in floor to ceiling fixed glazed panels, glazed sliding doors and the same slatted Balau timber finish as the garage and links the two buildings above ground visually with a hint as to their link beneath.
The main materials used in this project externally were concrete, Alucobond and Rheinzink cladding, glass and different types of marble. Internally, the main finishes were different types of marble for floors and feature walls, stainless steel wall cladding, glass, and walnut for joinery finishing.
Over and above the triangular parameters of the site; accommodation requirements; specification of finishes and detail, it is in the interaction between the volumes and spaces of the house, how they function together and how they open up to the exterior that one understands afro-euro aesthetic that is this house.
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