Surplombant le cœur du village de St. Moritz en Suisse, le Chesa Futura, imaginé en 2002 par les architectes Foster+Partners, est un immeuble d’appartements privés dont la conception et la réalisation ont nécessité les prouesses architecturales d’outils informatiques et l’application de techniques de construction traditionnelle. Tournée vers le lac, cette construction aux allures futuristes, s’inscrit comme un mini manifeste qui tend à la préservation de l’environnement naturel, du paysage et des savoirs ancestraux.
À propos du projet : « The Chesa Futura apartment building in the Engadin Valley fuses state-of-the-art computer design tools with centuries-old construction techniques to create an environmentally sensitive building. Although its form is novel, the building is framed and clad in timber – one of the oldest and most sustainable building materials. In Switzerland, building in timber is particularly appropriate in that it follows indigenous architectural traditions. The larch shingles will respond naturally to exposure to the elements, changing colour slowly over time to a silver-grey, and will last for a hundred years without the need for maintenance. Furthermore, timber is a renewable resource; the trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow; felling older trees reinforces the foresting practice of harvesting to encourage regeneration; and by using locally cut timber, little energy is consumed in its transportation.
The building consists of three storeys of apartments and an underground level for car parking, plant and storage. Although small, the site is spectacularly located on the edge of a slope, looking down over the village of St Moritz towards the lake. Responding to this location and to local weather patterns, the buildings bubble-like form allows windows and balconies on the southern side to open up to the sunlight and panoramic views, while the colder, north facade is more closed, punctuated with deep window openings in the Engadin tradition. In Switzerland, where snow lies on the ground for many months of the year, there is a long tradition of elevating buildings to avoid the danger of wood rotting due to prolonged exposure to moisture. That tradition is reinterpreted here by raising the building on eight pilotis and allowing the ground plane to continue untouched beneath it a move that has the added advantage of allowing the apartments to enjoy views that would otherwise be denied.
Taken overall, Chesa Futura (literally, house of the future) might be regarded as a mini manifesto for architecture, not just here but in other parts of the world. Contrary to the pattern of sprawl that disfigures the edges of so many expanding communities, it shows how new buildings can be inserted into the existing grain at increased densities, while sustaining indigenous building techniques and preserving the natural environment.«
Photos © Foster+Partners et Sjoerdtenkate’s Flickr
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