Le Clos des Sablière in Bordeaux, France, is actually a dual building scheme of minimalist character, but carries several shades of pulp fiction within.
Like twin sisters lost at birth and raised in different neighbourhoods stand the two buildings of this project by Agence Bernard Bühler. Le Clos des Sablière in Bordeaux, France, comprises of 15 business units called Sablieres and 11 residential units called St. Georges Rioux, built to face different streets but unmistakably of the same genetic material.
Two elements of great mystique value work with impunity in this project – grills/meshes, and vibrant colours. The buildings seem like exotic fruits – plain on the outside, but a multi-coloured surprise on the inside. One simple white façade wall of this building, with its windows looking like elements of a game of Tetris, seems like a deliberate act of restraint; because the interiors are just so enigmatic, with their sweeps of light-and-shadow.
The buildings have three distinct layers to them. The lowest is formed out of galvanised pipe railing and cuts off the business and residential parts from the chaos of the streets. Because of the predominant mesh character of the walls, light, air and sound will filter in, but the distance will make it all seem a bit surreal.
The second, street-facing façades comprise of two levels of slanting cedar wood fins. They are eye-brow raising arrays, making one wonder as to what exactly the interiors hold and function as. The motorists passing by must keep their curiosity in strict check so as to not get sucked in almost unknowingly. The ingenious filter lighting technique illuminates the common areas, including, especially the corridors that separate the housing and the façade. Walking through the corridors thereby becomes a unique experience of cutting through a curtain of tiny dots and thin lines of light and darkness.
Enhancing this feeling of osmosis with the sunny exteriors are the open loggias. They add a sub-layer of shadow-play to the already complicated game, in the process imbuing the rooms more sophistication of illumination.
The third and topmost layer is all glass and glaze, with alternating colours making an unexpected departure from the muted tones of the rest of the building. This is easily the most fascinating part of the interiors. The different blocks of colours form mats of multi-coloured shadows across the passageways. This contrasts brilliantly with the deep red walls of the main wall.
Looking through the coloured glass puts a refreshing perspective to the neighbourhood buildings, making the scenes look like they have been assigned different vignettes by a giant camera. This almost philosophical aspect of the construction highlights the project’s respect for the low-rise buildings of the surroundings.
There are greats sweeps of carefully manicured grass near the parking to make it private, almost hidden. And the windowed ceiling lets in more light, making the belly of these buildings forever fresh and dynamic.
The success of the team from Agence Bernard Bühler is in incorporating the distinct short stature of the buildings around Le Clos des Sablière and giving it a personal, quirky turn. The essence of the whole project is sort of represented by the rooms in the buildings – mostly white and wood and no-nonsense, but with blinds that are in love with bright red, orange and yellow.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy Vincent Monthiers