Architects: Maison Edouard Francois
Location: Grenoble, France
Area: 48,060 sf (floor area)
Photographs by: Renaud Chaignet
Python by Maison Edouard Francois
Maison Edouard Francois‘s Panache project was recently featured on our site, showcasing an unusual approach to a tall apartment building in Grenoble, France. But that project is actually a part of a larger development and the studio has another residential building that is worthy of a detailed showcase.
The Python in the city is an absolutely unusual apartment building with a design inspired by a snake skin Prada handbag. The pattern that separates the exterior of this building is a pixelated version of the skin of a python.
In this project, the building’s main features had already been precisely set forth by the client: a recessed top floor flanked by two duplexes, a platform pierced with immense glazed shop windows, large balconies and beautiful openings on the façade to allow sunshine and the view to penetrate the interior. With this litany of invariable promotional imperatives, the overall effect was slowly becoming a “predictable” project, altogether rather banal. In addition, the zone’s seismicity imposed the simplification of its volume: Amen.
How could we successfully differentiate it, given everything already seemed to have a predetermined status? However, the die had not yet been cast. The material for the skin still had to be selected. And the skin was able to blur and to camouflage the project and make it disappear.
The python skin is “pixelated” with regularly spaced diamond-shaped scales. This one here is identically reproduced in cut metal. The plaques are then oxidized to recreate the three colors, then assembled to complete the design of the skin.
This highly specialized type of cladding is quite expensive and is only applied to façades requiring some sort of screen. The others, however, can very well have nothing to say and thus remain inexpressive and silent like some of the gables in this city.