SAINT-SULPICE – Swiss architects Fruehauf, Henry & Viladoms have completed an apartment building in Saint-Sulpice, a small municipality outside Lausanne on Lake Geneva. The architects took advantage of a site that slopes downward to the street by embedding a parking garage underground and placing the apartments on grade. The result is a striking contrast; the apartments, finished in black metal, sit off balance atop a sculptural, white concrete car park entrance that splays open onto the street.

On the building’s street-side façade, the architects have created a subtler imbalance; the black railings that surround each level drift away from the exterior wall, allowing the balconies to widen toward the building’s west side. The imbalance is only perceived in elevation though. The plan, almost perfectly balanced, bears the same distortion in each corner and is organised in three concentric, rectangular rings. Generally, circulation and service are concentrated toward the building’s core so that living, dining, and sleeping spaces, together forming the largest and outermost ring, have the most access to natural light.

At the building’s outer edge, the details are what really stand out. Slightly thicker jambs around each apartment’s sliding doors add variety to the façades, which are entirely glazed from floor to ceiling. Just within each balcony’s railing, thin steel cables create a delicate, ghostly projection of the building’s inner structure. The railings themselves are made from vertical steel slats that hang several centimetres past the ceiling of the level below. Together, these simple details create nuanced, rhythmic outdoor spaces.

Photos courtesy FHV