A3 is the pilot project for the urban vision of Lyon Confluence 2 where nine buildings by six architects were planned and built in close cooperation with the city, the developer, and the contractor.
The master plan for Lyon Confluence 2 is the result of an invited competition, which Herzog & de Meuron won in 2009 in cooperation with Michel Desvigne.
The lively, compact city center on the peninsula between the Rhône and Sâone rivers expands southwards into the area that ends in the “Confluence”, where the two rivers converge.
The master plan consists of the Quartier du Marché, a mixed urban neighborhood, the Transversale, a boulevard that leads east and west to bridges over the two rivers, and the Champs, a park that leads to the southern tip of Confluence. The objective is to create vibrant public spaces and a heterogeneous social fabric. The architectural specifications aim for unity within diversity. Because of the central location, only a limited number of parking spaces are provided and buildings must adhere to strict energy regulations.
Efficient Administration, Personal Commitment
As in other cities in France, an urban development agency (Société Publique Locale SPL), over which the mayor presides, was founded in 2003 for the development of Lyon Confluence 1+2. Gérard Collomb, Lyon’s mayor from 2001 to 2017, managed the development of Lyon Confluence with great presence of mind and exemplary involvement of the public in the process (concertation).
The urban plan (Plan Local d’Urbanisme, PLU) was subsequently developed by the authors of the master plan in cooperation with the SPL and went into effect in 2012. Thereafter, Herzog & de Meuron and Michel Desvigne assumed the role of consultants to the client (Assistance au Maître d’Ouvrage, AMO). Since 2016, Herzog & de Meuron and Michel Desvigne have been sitting on competition juries and working with the SPL, advising on the urban, architectural, and landscaping aspects of the various projects.
Selection of Architects
For larger Îlots, a Chef d’Îlot, an architect with accredited qualifications, is commissioned to design one or several buildings. In this position, he is responsible for suggesting additional architects and, after they have been selected, to coordinate them and control the quality and coherence of “his” Îlot throughout all phases of planning and construction. This model enables established international architects to plan and build along with local architects from Lyon and promising newcomers.
Pilot Project Îlot A3 and Team
For the pilot project, Herzog & de Meuron were designated as Chef d’Îlot, and four additional architects were selected: Tatiana Bilbao (Mexico City), Building 3, 7 and 8, Christian Kerez (Zurich), Building 6, Manuel Herz (Basel), Building 4, and AFAA (Lyon), Building 1 and 2. The basic principles of the master plan for Lyon Confluence 2 were put into practice for the first time, and nine buildings were planned and built
Herzog & de Meuron: Building 5
The first high-rise in Lyon Confluence 2 by Herzog & de Meuron marks the intersection of Rue Smith and the public passage. It is set back from the street to make room for a small plaza in front of the entrance. The lower floors accommodate subsidized rentals, with condominiums above. Round, projecting loggias in the corners modify the simple volume of the building; they provide optimal sunlight and a view of the city. In addition, an outdoor staircase leads from the apartments on the lower five floors, with limited sunlight, directly to the Cour Jardinée. The ground floor accommodates shared uses and retail stores. The concrete façade and loadbearing structure were poured on site. Regularly placed windows echo the simplicity of Lyon‘s historical façades. Slanted metal frames allow the horizontally pivoting windows to open and the simultaneous use of roll-down blinds to provide shade.
Planning and execution of the nine buildings required the commitment and cooperation of all participants for a period of five years. In 2015, full-scale mock-ups of façades for all the buildings were constructed and reviewed on site in order to see how they interrelate. The finished structures testify to this extraordinary commitment and the singular climate of a remarkable collaboration. The buildings show both subtle affinities and exciting contrasts. Îlot A3 vibrantly demonstrates forms of constructive, intense, and enriching cooperation as a multisector, contemporary theme.
Fair-faced concrete on the façades came about in the course of planning, exchange, and collaboration. A diversity of architectural expression emerged in the overall view in response to the various uses, the choice of apartment typologies, and the background of the respective makers. The decision to work with a uniform material was reinforced by the fact that the construction company, Léon Grosse, has substantial expertise in working with concrete.
Unity within Diversity
The specifications of the development plan go beyond the volume of the buildings. The architectural guidelines aim to achieve unity within diversity. The façades of the differently scaled buildings are to be executed primarily in mineral materials and light in coloring in keeping with the old town of Lyon and especially the frontage along the Rhône.
Typologies and identity
The housing and office typologies in Îlot A3 give rise to the distinctive character and identity of the buildings; their physical side-by-side contributes to the heterogeneous social fabric of the neighborhood. Most of the units are either corner apartments or run the width of the building; one building is characterized by a split-level typology, another, smaller one consists of duplex townhouses above a nursery school. The common courtyard is activated through outside stairs and access decks, terraces, and balconies.
Vibrant and heterogeneous
The mix of offices and residential buildings around Cour Jardinée has been established, among other things, to fulfill the daylight requirements of apartments, as stipulated by the urban plan. The mix of social housing, subsidized apartments, and condominiums ensures a heterogeneous fabric. Ground-floor uses are cross-financed by revenue from the uses above in order to enliven the streetscape.
Lyon is almost a Mediterranean city. The architects of the Îlot incorporate the potential of the warm climate into the social and architectural dimensions of their buildings in different and yet related ways. There are balconies, loggias and terraces as well as access decks and outside stairs. The green courtyard (cour jardinée) creates a kind of “green continuity” in the heart of the new Quartier du Marché.
Trees filter the light of the summer sun and guarantee sunlight in winter. Clearings with benches and tables are inviting spots to stop and stay.
The Next Chapter of LC2
Two more buildings of social housing and a central parking garage are already under construction. The next Îlots are in the advanced stages of planning. Some 30 buildings or almost a third of the entire Lyon Confluence 2 neighborhood are scheduled for completion within the next five years.