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Pointe de la Jonction, Geneva

Part 2 Project 2008
Suirong Huang
John Merry
Julien Denis
University of Liverpool UK
Our thesis involves the proposal of an urban strategy for the Pointe de la Jonction in Geneva, Switzerland. Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Arve rivers, the natural beauty of the site forces us to ask ourselves what it means to live so close to the city, yet in this wonderful landscape. Travelling on water, La Jonction can be seen as the city’s ‘beginning or end-point’. The scheme we propose aims at exploring a particular conception of the city; one that combines the mega-structural with the collective. An interesting parameter that motivated us to choose this site is the fact that the fully-functioning public transport facilities that populate it are to be relocated to a ‘more appropriate’ location on the city’s periphery.

The testing of various urban structures was the starting point in the formulation of a strategy for the site. We analysed a variety of solutions in order to test both the capacity of the site and explore the particularities of different block types. The decision to re-develop the bus maintenance centre on site led us to consider a large scale intervention which would attempt to conciliate the light industrial use with new dwellings. This was driven largely by the idea of ‘building the city over the city’. Rather than sterilising the area with a carte-blanche proposal, our scheme could aim at investigating whether the inconvenience of the public transport system could be tolerated within a new living district.

At La Jonction we are testing the idea of combining several urban forms into a cohesive district unit, a sort of ‘superblock’ which assumes a variety of functions and provides urban spaces of contrasting qualities. The collective uses at ground and the public open spaces will need to co-exist with the access routes of buses. Above the bus depot, streets have been eradicated and the scheme is to be experienced as a series of courts of varying degrees of ‘private-ness’. The extreme tip of the peninsula is treated as man-made landscape which acts as a mediator between the proposed urban block and the wilderness beyond.

Suirong Huang
John Merry
Julien Denis

The morphological structure of Geneva and its city blocks, the relationship between large structures within the city and the possibilities and limits of the urban perimeter block as a multifunctional piece of city at the beginning of the C21 were key questions addressed by the authors of this project. They also considered in depth how to relate the urban landscape to its “natural” counterpart. The resulting building is essentially a mega-block, which accommodates different – public and private – programmes and intelligently negotiates different types of circulation and enclosures for publicly accessible spaces.
A concise study and analysis of a significant variety of options enabled the students to test spatial hierarchies both within the context of their own programme and between their proposal and the city. The design, although fulfilling all of the functional requirements stipulated by the brief, was developed by the author’s advanced understanding of the importance of un-programmed but typologically clearly defined spaces within urban environments.
Different types of public spaces are clearly addressed by the building in each situation and the students thus mastered a design task of great complexity, by which each elevation is specifically thought through and mediates between inside and outside. Yet, the building itself is not fragmented but rather presents a coherent succession of architectural moments open to different interpretations and use.
The challenge the authors of this project faced and the precision with which the project is resolved in any scale, makes this thesis into an interesting and provocative contribution to any debate concerned with the morphology of cities and the transformation and development of types.

Mr Torsten Schmiedeknecht
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