An iconic new mixed-use development in the heart of Montpellier in southern France, L’Arbre Blanc (The White Tree) grew out of a design concept tied to the outdoor traditions of this temperate region along the Mediterranean Sea.
Spinning out from a central core, the design-defining balconies unfold brilliantly to offer upper-level residents an array of amazing panoramic views while providing shade for units below.
This collaborative project by Sou Fujimoto Architects, Nicolas Laisné Associés and Manal Rachdi Oxo Architects (via ArchDaily with images by RSI Studio) includes a restaurant, bar, offices and art gallery in addition to dwellings.
Set in the fastest-growing city in France, the building is designed as a transition point between the heart of the old city and a series of faster-growing neighborhoods surrounding the existing center.
A series of passive heating and cooling strategies, including wind and solar usage, reinforce the tree concept with practical and sustainable solutions for everyday occupants.
In terms of the housing units themselves: “The architects sought to encourage free-choice architecture, which they see as underpinning tomorrow’s housing trend where everyone starts with a ‘housing stock’ when they buy their flat and are not confined to manufactured articles, regimented layouts, turnkey spaces. Instead they are given possibilities, modular interior spaces they can choose from a catalogue of optional features and floor plans.”