Each apartment has up to three balconies in this amazing tree-inspired high-rise.

The building, in Montpellier, France, uses strategically placed balconies and shades to give residents the maximum outdoor space without blocking views or taking up too much room on the ground.

It looks a little like a giant white pinecone.

“The idea is to have, in this urban landscape, a continuity from an existing park to our site.”

“We wanted to preserve the site as much as possible,” says Manal Rachdi, whose architecture firm worked on the project with Sou Fujimoto and Nicolas Laisné Associates.

Inspired by the shape of a tree, the architects used a smaller footprint for the base and “leaves” expanding outward on higher floors.

“The tree is really the minimum space we can have on the site, but we have this really big extension with the leaves,” Rachdi explains.

“Just as leaves in a tree are naturally arranged to get the maximum sun, we’ve mathematically arranged these balconies and cantilevers to catch and shade the sun.”

One side of the building curves inward along a street, while the opposite side, facing a river, is convex to give apartments the best views.

At the base of the building, the architects have designed spaces for offices, a restaurant, a bar, and an art gallery.

Everything’s designed to run on local renewable energy, and the building also uses passive strategies to reduce the amount of power needed.

Upstairs, each apartment has so many balconies--up to three, depending on the apartment layout a resident chooses--that a unit is made up of about half outdoor space.

2014-03-27

Co.Exist

This Amazing High-Rise Apartment Building Looks Like A Giant Tree

With balconies budding like leaves, no one could complain for lack of outdoor space in this building in France.

Looking a little like a giant white pinecone, the design for this new high-rise apartment building in Montpellier, France, uses strategically placed balconies and shades to give residents the maximum outdoor space without blocking views or taking up too much room on the ground.

"We wanted to preserve the site as much as possible," says Manal Rachdi, whose architecture firm worked on the project with Sou Fujimoto and Nicolas Laisné Associates. "The idea is to have, in this urban landscape, a continuity from an existing park to our site."

Inspired by the shape of a tree, the architects used a smaller footprint for the base and "leaves" expanding outward on higher floors. "The tree is really the minimum space we can have on the site, but we have this really big extension with the leaves," Rachdi explains. "Just as leaves in a tree are naturally arranged to get the maximum sun, we’ve mathematically arranged these balconies and cantilevers to catch and shade the sun."

One side of the building curves inward along a street, while the opposite side, facing a river, is convex to give apartments the best views. At the base of the building, the architects have designed spaces for offices, a restaurant, a bar, and an art gallery. Everything’s built to run on local renewable energy, and the building also uses passive cooling strategies to reduce the amount of power needed.

Upstairs, each apartment has so many balconies—up to three, depending on the apartment layout a resident chooses—that a unit is made up of about half outdoor space. There’s even a balcony in the bedroom with enough room to sleep on when the weather’s warm.

"We discovered that in this city, people live outside," Rachdi says. "So we came up with the idea to have an interior apartment but also have a big surface outside—about 30 square meters. We’re trying to end the break that is between outside and inside with the architecture of this building."

Sou Fujimoto Architects + Nicolas Laisne Associes + Manal Rachdi Oxo Architects + Frank Boutte Consultants + Rendering by RSI-Studio

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10 Comments

  • Laurie Scarborough

    FYI, Those aren't photos, they're artistic renderings of what they might look like.

  • Dan Lewis

    I would have loved to see photos of the actual construction. I want to see how those balconies are fabricated and fastened.

    You showed us the spark, but not how the spark was made.

  • Naomi Fiordimondo

    Intetesting idea. How would this hold up to strong winds or heavy snow? And what's the weight limit on a balcony? Looks like a nice place to entertain but I'm not sure it's safe for a cocktail party.

  • Randy Ventura

    What a perfect idea for many places around the globe... Randy.Ventura@SothebysHomes.com

  • Bill G Skywatcher

    Might be fun to live in, but not look at.

    IMHO, looks like a giant MESS!

  • Maximizing outdoor space while minimizing footprint is a great concept. It will be interesting to see how much can be incorporated into a final built structure.

  • Smail Buzzby

    No, it doesn't look at all like a tree. It DOES look very, very ugly. Trees are typically beautiful...

  • Dave Westall

    What an amazing building, love it!

    --Dave Westall Oliver Luxury Real Estate, Lake Tahoe www.WestallRealEstate.com