The Jolimont Nord offices in Mont-sur-Rolle designed by 2b Architectes offer an interesting example of how a building’s surroundings can be interpreted in a contemporary architectural idiom. Colour and the morphology of the site are the keys to the project.
Studio 2b Architectes’ building is located in an enchanting spot that perfectly suits its name: the site of the Jolimont Nord offices is located on the hills sloping down to the town of Rolle on the northwest shore of Lake Geneva.
This little piece of land faces the busy motorway linking Lausanne with Geneva on the northern side, while the urban dimension is restored on the southern side with a series of residential lots occupied by low townhouses. The morphology of the land imposes a rectangular layout with a definite horizontal orientation that follows the shape of the motorway barrier and rises no higher than two floors high, in accordance with building regulations. The programme’s spatial requirements are met by digging below ground level to create a basement level with an outdoor parking lot for employees. This adds a second, more private entrance in addition to the ground floor main entrance for customers. Both entrances are on the southern side, facing the residential buildings, revealing the architects' intention of “turning their back” to the motorway and using the building to create a visual and acoustic barrier for the neighbourhood.
The concrete structure of the Jolimont Nord offices is completely hidden behind an aluminium and glass strip façade, the transparent and etched glass panels of which give the project its identity. Like a multi-coloured geometric panel, the modular surface covers the building for its entire vertical and horizontal extension, sheltering the view of the interiors, the form of which can merely be glimpsed thanks to the addition of a number of transparent panels. But it is to the east, where the little vineyard is located, that the architects find the key to the design and its inclusion in the landscape. The Mont-sur-Rolle area is known for the vineyard of La Cote, the famous wine from the northern shore of Lake Geneva. A precious effect created by 6 hues of colour, from wine to ochre and gold, is formed between the façade modules and the thin frame supporting them – an intuition arising out of observation of the site, to which the succession of different times of day and seasons contributes additional variety.
The interior is on three levels, one of which is underground, arranged around a central core for vertical circulation and utilities. The block spatially divides the building into two wings: the reception and public areas to the east, and the operating premises to the west. The structure is supported by a series of simple cement dividers, arranged at right angles to the building, constituting a first level of fragmentation of planes which does not interrupt the spatial perception of the whole and permits possible inclusion of lightweight partitions if greater privacy is required.
The Jolimont Nord office building strikes those observing it from the outside for the lightness of its identity. Its formal simplicity is not extraneous to the land around it, despite the fact that it has only been there for a year and time has not yet tamed its image.
Collaborators: Stephanie Bender, Philippe Béboux, Céline Becker, Steffan Heath, Patrick Krecl, Tanguy Auffret-Postel, Caroline Jung
Construction management: a.planir, Echallens
Structural engineer: Stève Porscha, 3demarch
Building physicist: Peter Braun, Normal Office / Remi Burnier, Eco System Concept
Building enveloppe engineer: BCS, Neuchâtel
Location: Chemin des Pêchers 35, 1185 Mont-sur-Rolle, Switzerland
Client: Promo T&I
Total surface: 1322 mq
Structure in concrete
Facades in glass
Photographs: © Roger Frei