Since the 18th Century, the follies of Montpellier have been markers for the architectural history of the city. The Follies helped to add new ways of living, new features, new programs in the city, giving it a significant value and broadening its appeal for both residents and visitors. Follies of the 21st Century are an opportunity to affirm the centrally metropolitan Montpellier while reaffirming its commitment to creativity, innovation and architectural audacity, forming new urban landmarks whilst providing added value to the city. They are objects that are therefore used as reflections of the innovative attitude of the city. What Follie should be built in the 21st Century? What story shall it tell and how? How could this form react with the site, with its neighbourhood and its territory? Could we reflect, in some way, the current state of urban Montpellier?
Through our project, we try to answer all of these questions, The Vertical Village is the result of a meeting between the Montpelliér Follies (existing and future) and surrounding areas. Situated between the historic district of Antigone and the new neighbourhoods of Port Marianne, it represents a link between the two. The architectural composition will unify and bring together the different lifestyles and urban characteristics of Montpellier. From its low density housing in the suburbs, to its densely populated areas such as the Port Marianne district.
How can a building reflect this mixture? The architecture must express this richness and diversity of neighbourhoods in the image of the city of Montpellier. To achieve this composition, it is necessary to create a collection representing qualities and intrinsic values of each: social, formal, relational. A series of neighbourhoods is imagined: patio homes, houses on the street, collective houses with communal areas and gardens houses.
One can imagine one, two or three levels, of different sizes, from one to twenty houses. And they may have different appearances, different facades and different gardens. A true collection that can adjust to market demand and to attract different people. This collection of neighbourhoods is also programmatic – the developed program is a mix of activities; student halls, medium to high price housing, all catering to a mixture of generations and social groups.
The program is organized into clear and recognizable entities forming neighbourhoods and promoting social and community cohesion. The tower expresses the individuality of each volume and diversity (shape, surface, different orientation). The building becomes a multifaceted image of the city of Montpellier, which is also composed of various cells.
Stacking these neighbourhoods with each other, creates outdoor spaces, gardens, squares and terraces. The overall result is a vertical village. Breaks between volumes bring in natural light and views which sometimes lead to collective terraces. The different neighbourhoods are articulated in different colours ensuring that each programme is visually enhanced and easily identified.
The integration of the building into its environment is a decisive factor in the creation of public space. The tower is anchored to the neighbourhood by its ground floor which focuses shops, activities and inputs of housing.
Different entities of the foot of the tower have their own courtyard / gardens extending their gateways to the site boundaries. These courts express and emphasize the programmatic mix within.
The housing supply for the area must be improved to meet the growing needs of the population. As part of a process of innovation in housing and quality of life, the Vertical Village project reveals the individuality of each unit and induces a greater freedom in the approach to housing. It offers quality and attractive environments, both unique and suitable for all types of users, both young and old, singles and families. The collection allows districts to focus on the quality of each housing typology by including shared communal spaces. Unique and recognizable housing, housing and more comfortable with private or communal outdoor spaces naturally take place in the pits induced by the changing shape of the volumes of these neighbourhoods.
To reinforce the concept of accumulation of neighbourhoods and identities, a set of typologies was proposed: the apartment balcony – more confined and are arranged around a common loggia, the terrace apartment – which have an outdoor terrace beside each room of the house, and the Penthouse – apartments with a real outdoor garden opening up to the surrounding landscape.
The top of the tower is occupied by a Sky bar enjoying the panoramic views of the city and its surroundings for everyone, whether resident or neighbour. The richness and quality of the project in terms of diversity and openness is part of a long-term vision. The accumulation of various neighbourhoods emphasizes individuality. At the same time, this pure stack turns into a coherent sculpture, its silhouette forming a true landmark within the skyline of Montpellier.
Images: MVRDV – Antonio Coco