Architecture

Build bridges, not walls

Rémi Coutanson, Joshua Guiffrey, Hayoung Hong, Stéphanie Manouk, Quang-Trung Pham, Uriel Rollet
École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Saint-Étienne
France

Project idea

The creation of an architectural entity capable of linking two countries, and cultures, complexifies design in general, which has to be faithful to both. An embassy implies a sense of dignity, protocol, is inherently a balance of pride and empathy. Our concept doesn't link its form and space to direct visual references that we later adapted into architecture.
Instead we thought of it through its link to the site, its coherence and dialog and relationship with the public.
Our design is intentionally minimalistic and pure, its characteristics being linked to both its modern czech roots and its ethiopian abode, without automatically seeking comfort in pre-existing architecture styles, that we intentionnaly avoided to reinforce the timelessness and the coherence with the genius loci.

Project description

The embassy is implanted thoughfully; the base question we wanted to answer being: how do we make a very public space private, and how do we treat the relationship between the two.
In essence, the gardens are a transition between outside, being the city, and inside, being the embassy surroundings, leading to the main entrance and the inside complex.
The gardens are both an extension of the embassy, and an introduction.
People will enjoy the shade of the trees, whilst being directly in relationship with the building itself.

The main hall, embodied by the adobe arch alley, is both the main sas, controlling the flow of people before they access the more private space inside the building, and the spine of the complex.
It is the key element for the public, and becomes a large ambulation, piercing through the entirety of the structure when the partitions are removed.

The transition between the gardens and the building is smoothed by this element, because even if it's very stately, it's rather open.

Although the design aspect and the implantation were both very sensible, the organisation itselft was very rational and went through many phases, each one simplifying and clearifying both space and circulation.
The division between public and private is helped by semi-private transition spaces, that ensure fluidity, whilst keeping security as a priority.
Shapes are overall simple, as well as organisation, to allow fluidity, in a complex that will have to be efficient, along producing cosy retreats for the staff, as well as the visitors and diplomats.
We do not forget the need for quality revitalising space, embodied by the public garden, as well as the more private and secure ones.

The reflexion surrounding the organisation, and its hierarchy, linked to the inherent balance of public and private composing an embassy, is also streched upwards, putting the most private and security-requiring spaces at a distance, not just in two dimensions, but rising the program, enhancing at the same time the visual presence of the building in the general city layout.
This presence is nonetheless subtle, both by the use of very filigran elements, very toned-down materials, and is balanced by vegetation of the gardens, and the sparks of color brought by the trees.

Technical information

When it comes to organising space, we symbolically chose to have as less walls as possible, in the public aera, which gives a certain empathy to the complex, reducing the overwhelming effect institutional buildings can have on people.
The arches hold the main aisle, whilst organising the public aera, which benefits from the typology of the path produced.
After the security checkpoints, the area is as open as possible, to enhance the quality of the experience of the visitor.


Precise information will be shared through the documents uploaded.