Graeme Mann & Patricia Capua Mann

Multipurpose Sports Hall . Villaz-Saint-Pierre

Graeme Mann & Patricia Capua Mann . photos: Thomas Jantscher . © Graeme Mann & Patricia Capua Mann

The village of Villaz-Saint-Pierre is built on a hilltop facing the Plateau and the Fribourg Alps in a setting of gently rolling hills sometimes shrouded in fog.

The new multipurpose sports hall is located below the church and the village square. In reference to the principle of terraced siting typical of this land, the new hall hugs the slope: the upper level constitutes the main access through a foyer while the large hall on the lower level opens up to afford a view of the countryside. The construction of multipurpose sports halls is a recurrent theme in many communities of western Switzerland. By accommodating the practice of sports activities – and therefore by satisfying demands that are more stringent than those of other users – the structure serves an entire community due to its flexibility.
The treatment of the façades is expressed by successive layers which reveal the thickness of the cladding through the interaction of transparency. As if to assign these layers to the structure’s different functions, the covering in untreated larch wood extends beyond the base. With planks positioned so as to allow the visitor to see through the cladding, the new structure acquires a strong presence, an identity. Mounted on rack supports, the slope of the planks varies with the height of the view – vertical at the top, then more and more horizontal towards the bottom. This focus on expression underscores the horizontality of the volume while attenuating its volumetric impact.
As the facility’s users move about, their journeys are accompanied by magnificent views and plays of light. Upon entering the building, the foyer affords a framed and distant view of the countryside and the Alps, while three meters below, on the level of the hall, this same setting of the landscape nurtures a feeling of proximity to the natural surroundings. As expressed by the foyer’s large opening, certain perspectives are framed with precision while others, such as those of the cemetery and carpark, are filtered to reduce their impact on the visual experience of users inside.
The roof structure features a frame of laminated wooden beams with a 2.45 m grid and affords a feeling of ample space to the interior, beyond the perimeter of the hall. The use of one and the same panel cladding of beech plywood helps to integrate and merge all community space.
By avoiding the tenet of single use and by betting on values of community and multiple purpose, this new construction manages to integrate an imposing project within a rural environment. In addition, the use of wood has allowed to keep the expression and scale of volume under control through simple means without adversely affecting the public and representative character expected of a multipurpose hall.

Graeme Mann & Patricia Capua Mann
Sandra Leitao, Mojca Zavodnik, Francois Eugster
Structural engineering
ETEC SA – Boss & associés
Facade : Arteco SA
Dessibourg Energie Sàrl
Pasquier & Scherler

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