Last week, work started on a project to construct 1,000 apartments in Geneva. The project known as the Quartier de l’Etang will unfold over an 11 hectare site in Vernier, not far from Geneva airport.
The video above shows the commencement ceremony and a computer animation of the completed project.
The man behind it, Claude Berda, is a French-Swiss billionaire who started out selling jeans in the corridors of Dauphine University.
Berda bought and combined 15 adjacent plots to create a site large enough for the project.
Described as a town within a town, in addition to 1,000 apartments capable of housing 2,500 people, the complex will have 150,000 square metres of commercial space, a clinic and three hotels, which the developers say will lead to 2,500 jobs.
Projects like this have social as well as architectural dimensions. Le Corbusier, another Swiss-French visionary – he was born Swiss and became French as opposed to Berda who became Swiss – was one of the first to experiment with large apartment complexes in the 1940s, 50s and 60s when he designed the Unité d’habitations, which he described as machines for living. His daring designs aimed to promote community among residents.
Unfortunately some of the large apartment projects inspired by Corbusier that followed were ugly failures. Corbusier’s apartment projects however, such as the one in Marseille, are now destinations of architectural pilgrimage filled with appreciative residents.
Hopefully the Quartier de l’Etang will follow the success of Corbusier’s apartment blocks.
Its expected completion date is sometime between 2021 and 2023.