Residential Complex Merville - Pedro Sousa | Gonçalo Byrne
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Residential Complex Merville

Pedro Sousa | Gonçalo Byrne

Edited By Redazione The Plan - 30 September 2011
The centre of the Veneto seaside town of Jesolo has been the focus of a much-deliberated urban regeneration plan. The pivotal issue was and is to rethink how the resort’s building stock, coastal strip and natural pinewoods can be made to co-exist, upgrading the urban fabric and undeveloped stretches and safeguarding the coastal landscape. Initially drawn up in 1997 by Kenzo Tange, the plan provided for a series of high rises, a scheme that was subsequently somewhat revised in 2002 by Aurelio Galfetti to include the upgrade of a nearby marine pinewood. The “house in the park” straddles these two versions. Central to the building’s programme is the relationship between architecture and nature - here strongly present with the sea and beach on one side, and the pinewood, a public beauty spot, on the other. Both the architecture of Gonçalo Byrne and Pedro Sousa and the landscaping by João Ferreira Nunes take on board the project’s duality of purpose and the duality of the natural setting. The 24-storey building stands as an out-of-scale landmark in a general flat landscape and low-rise horizontal skyline. The square tower forms a hinge between seashore and pinewood. Above its double-height entrance hall, each floor containing 4 flats around a central vertical circulation shaft offers sweeping views. The stark geometry with no projections or overhangs lends the building an added presence. Its symbolic dimension is heightened by the refinement of the outer cladding: diaphanous glass slabs that enclose the terraces and balconies running around the perimeter of the building and act as brise soleil. The transparent envelope has the effect of dematerialising the tower’s huge mass, the glass changing from green to light blue with the changing light. At the foot of the building, a long linear volume forms a sort of base separating the area from the main road. This section houses shops and other public services. Adjacent to the tower, 3 four-storey volumes fuse with a nearby wooded area, their ground plan articulated to mould with the shore-line. Slightly raised from the ground, these residential blocks follow the gentle slope as the terrain gradually gives way to sand dunes. Unconcealed structural steel beams serve as stringcourses, giving a horizontal movement to the façades. Between them on each floor, closely set vertical wooden slats provide sun shading. Even the windowless sides of the houses are clad in wood panels. The elegant landscape design unifies the site: there is a wooden boardwalk down to the pool and the beach, and wooden pathways through the pinewood encouraging people to enjoy a local beauty spot.

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