Energy efficient housing forms rocky outcrop on the riverside
Following the completion of its award-winning Valley development comes another project by MVRDV that’s defined by an impressive mountain-like exterior. Ascension Paysagère has been partly built to the exacting Passivhaus green building standard and features lots of trees and plants installed on the outside.
Ascension Paysagère was created in collaboration with co-architect All for real estate developer Groupe Giboire. It's located at the confluence of two rivers in the west of Rennes, France.
The 8,200 sq m (roughly 88,000 sq ft) development is spread over two residential buildings that have eight floors and 12 floors, respectively, and host 138 homes between them, as well as some commercial space. Their exteriors are finished in five shades of gray, with dark and matte hues near to ground level, becoming lighter and glossier higher up. More than just offering an interesting design, their stepped form creates a terrace space or balcony for every apartment. The terraces will also eventually be overflowing with greenery as the trees continue to grow.
"Ascension Paysagère takes inspiration from geological formations," explained MVRDV. "The project comprises two curving buildings, one large and one small, with gradually receding slopes. By the river, and at points where the project approaches its neighbors, the buildings are low, acknowledging the expansive, low-rise context. Elsewhere, however, the design gradually steps up into three peaks, reaching the maximum 12-story height in the center of the site. The terraces created by these gradual step-backs are decked with pots filled with greenery, extending the lush atmosphere of the riverbank upwards to the apartments even at the very top of the building. On the western corner of the larger block, in between the building's two 'peaks,' a garden including fruit trees emphasizes this green approach."
The 34 apartments located in the smaller building are built to the stringent Passivhaus standard. This means that they have fantastic insulation and a high level of air-tightness and will maintain a relatively constant temperature, year-round, making them very energy efficient – and cheap – to keep comfortable. Some of the other apartments in the larger building are social housing, while others are "affordable" private rentals, says MVRDV, plus there are plush pads that can cost as much as €1.8 million (approximately US$1.7 million). Windows have been carefully situated to maximize natural light inside and ensure excellent ventilation throughout.
Elsewhere, Ascension Paysagère features several public spaces, a restaurant and a theater. There is also a focus on bicycle parking, including dedicated spaces for cargo bikes and charging stations for electric vehicles.