Due to its dedication to art performances and its temporary nature, the Pavillon de la Danse is conceived as an abstract piece, whose presence in the city is introspective, enigmatic and ambiguous.

Conceived more like an event or art installation than a building, its character emerges from the tension between what happens inside the building and its relationship with the city. The building’s composition consists of a rectangular high volume resting on an irregularly shaped podium with cut out corners. The high volume is always set back from the edges of the podium, whose form adapts the position of existing trees and the various site conditions.

Place Charles-Sturm is an elongated space lined with lines of trees whose length is the entire width of Les Tranchées urban form. The urban strategy for the future of this space is to fragment the square into sectors of different characters and use. The form of the building adapts to the presence of existing trees with the intention of maximizing the number of these to be retained. The buildings is placed in one of this sectors, with its length equaling the one of the neighbouring housing blocks of Les Tranchées, aligned with the facades of Rue Francois le Fort and Rue du Mont Sion, as if being an extension of the same urban structure. The abstract and enigmatic volume of the building is perceived in the height of the Place Charles-Sturm when approaching from Rue des Glacis-de-Rive, providing a clear visibility to the new construction and contemporary dance in the city. The cut out corners of the podium on the north side of the building define two open public spaces with the one facing Rue Charles-Sturm being the main public entrance to the building. In this exterior space the public will find information about the current programme and a covered area for the purchase of tickets. The north facade, set back from the two lines of Érable trees, provides a formal conclusion to the Place Charles-Sturm and engages in a direct relationship with the Église Russe. The spare and long facade to Rue Charles Sturm, due to the set back of the top volume from the edge of the podium, has direct relationships with the architecture of Les Tranchées constituted by a plinth topped by cornice marking the upper storeys. The configuration of the space of Place Charles-Sturm after the building is relocated is of four sectors related to the urban form of Les Tranchées. A central formal public space, in axis with the Église Russe, where the Bust de François le Fort is relocated and a more informal space to the north in relation with the School, both enclosed with trees.

The abstract presence of the Pavillon de la Danse is reinforced by its exterior materiality. The horizontal composition of the facade draws inspiration from the historic stone facades of Geneva, characterized by a plinth that deals with the contact with the ground and upper entablature with more delicate stone. Tectonically, the building is conceived as the stacking of timber on a plinth solidly resting on the ground. The plinth is constructed by stacking prefabricated concrete panels, suggesting an idea of temporariness and demountability. The facade is made of cedar wood planks mounted horizontally with a matt colour treatment that allows for the wood grain to remain visible. The abstraction of the Pavillon de la Danse is reinforced by the utilization of the same form of cladding on all exterior surfaces, including the roof, strengthening the object like nature of the building. Parts of the facade are made permeable to light and air by sections of the wall made of timber lamella, obtaining a louvered facade by turning the cladding planks 90 degrees, maintaining the material and volumetric continuity of the volume. The treatment of doors and windows marks the importance of the threshold with the building’s few and large openings treated as very precious elements. From the outside these appear as thick frames-boxes projecting from the walls, as hanged from the timber facade. The frames are metallic with a gilded finish, echoing the domes of the Église Russe.

We understand the Salle for performance as the heart of the building, with the rest of the programme as the ancillary facilities that allow for the hall to function. The spatial arrangement of the Pavillon de la Danse revolves around this idea with the tall volume of the Salle at the centre of the building. Lower volumes containing the rest of the programme attach to it at ground level, hence the external form of the building being a direct expression of the relation between the spaces of the building. The Salle is treated as the NAOS or CELLA of classical temples: an innermost chamber with no relation with the exterior and totally mat back. The intention is to create a powerful and charged space for art and performance.

armental ciurlo walker arquitectos
Collaborators: Farrokh Aman
Render: Carlos Comendador

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