Davide Franchina, Fabio Baldi, Lisa Poggi, Giuseppe Caradonna, Carlo Rosso
1.1 Territorial scale
Aigle is a village of approximately 8700 inhabitants, located in a valley near the Genva lake and the Rhone river. The urban agglomeration boasts an ancient history and an agricultural vocation based on the cultivation of the grapevine. The grapevine today still results particularly important since the vineyards surround the village and pushes itself inside the inhabited area. It’s actually relevant that in the Castle of Aigle (Chateau d’Aigle) is located the Vineyard Museum (Le Museé de la Vigne et du Vin).
The second historical-social feature of Aigle is the presence of important infrastructures, mainly railways, both regional and international. Besides the great railroad connecting Italy to Western Switzerland, there are three local railways (opened at the beginning of XX century) wich join Aigle to the sorroundings and to the near tourist places. This makes Aigle the second railway knot for importance of the Vaud after Lausanne. The urban tissue is particularly involved by the presence of the railroad, which crosses the main road accesses and it works as a system of urban connection.
The territorial context is constituted therefore by a landscape of mountain, punctuated from vineyards, and connected by a dense net of road and railway connections.
1.2 Urban scale
The urban plot of the village of Aigle has a medieval plant. The city streets are of small dimension, without a precise rational scheme, placed side by side by a great number of passages and connections inside the buildings tissue. Blocks are often crossed by these passages between the public and private dimension, passages that open on inner courtyards and open areas facing the buildings. Currently the majority of these courtyards is used as a parking area by the residents. The same situation is present to the upper level of the buildings in the historical centre, characterized from the presence of galleries that connect the buildings, according to a scheme of different functional areas junction, inherited by the past.
In the centre of the village, between the church and the square in front of the municipality, there is the New Mill (Mulin Neuf), a big structure whose presence marks the reading of the hystorical centre. This architecture and the open spaces around it become the centre point of our project.
To the east side of the Mill is situated the commercial district of the village, focused around Rue du Bourg, Rue Farel and Place du Marché, while on the western side, as above mentioned, rise up the church and the scholastic dictrict with its open areas. To the nort of the Europan 11 scope of work, there is an area interested by a project of residential/commercial development (Sous le Bourg), wich need to find a synergical connection with our proposal.
Crossing the project area north to the Mill (Rue de la Gare) there is one of the local railways, and the same thing happens in correspondence of the southern border of the area (Avenue du Chamossaire).
2. The project idea
2.1 Needs and motivations
The notice expressed the need for redefinition of spaces and functions in the old town of Aigle, focusing attention on the new functions of the structure of the eminent Muolin Neuf and the surrounding area. This results in comparison with other collateral requirements, especially regarding: 1) urban traffic: harmonization of transit modes (pedestrian, car, rail), 2) redefinition of the axes connecting functional (areas of commercially-oriented, cultural, administrative , social, etc..) 3) attention to the pedestrian zone in terms of improved quality of life, 4) the need for harmonization of the context of the project with the surrounding area covered by the project Sous le Bourg; 5) desire to renforce links and physical identity between the centre of the village and surrounding areas (castle, vineyards, mountains).
In light of these demands, the project wanted to redefine a new feature inspired by the Moulin Neuf urban local tradition, enriching potential of the study area and defining it as a link between the different souls of the village.
2.2 Guidelines Project
In light of these needs, the wishes expressed in the idea determines the design guidelines.
1) Playing the double size of the private and public use, according to a scheme which incorporates some characteristics of the historical urban area. Aigle, in fact ,shows a fragmented urban fabric, where the minor public access (steps, pathways, openings, doors, patios) create a maze of roads and alternatives to the more shortcuts. This connection mode uses semi-private areas of need, and faces in the intimate sphere of the urban layer, but also provides for the citizens as a source of interest for tourists, of surprise and fascination.
2) The Moulin Neuf new functions according to the idea that the structure is “alive” at any time of day, day and night by combining aggregate functions. This makes the mill the new city centre of reference, can be connected functionally and conceptually different to the surrounding areas. The open areas surrounding the building is just directing to the surrounding poles: the Place du Marché and the shopping district adjacent to the east, the new library to the south, the church and the school to the west. The north will be the Rue de la Gar, more subdued and discreet to establish contact with the planned residential area. The mill is then transformed into multi-purpose centre that can provide reference for the city identity. In return it will open to those different urban areas the prospect of harmonizing together.
3) Connect the centre values and historical landscape of the district of Aigle. The presence of minor railways open to the nearby places of significant economic and tourism is an opportunity to exploit the potential of public transport, but also to create perspective and telescopes structural openings on the front of the surrounding landscape, aided in this by the presence of powerful and evocative mountain ranges. The strengthening of the city centre also passes through the visual enjoyment dell’intorno, an element of absolute value. This is a shot of another traditional element that sees, for example, the presence of vineyards “urban” scattered, almost in the centre to bring the values of the surrounding countryside.
3 The project
The area interested by the project is the old centre of Aigle, a undirectional trapezium that surrounds the Moulin Neuf building. The proposal needs a planning of intervention. The preferred axis will be the north-west/south-east, perpendicular to the rue de la Gare and Avenue du Chamossair. The whole surface will be functionally divided in three macro-areas: one residential at north, bordering and armonious with the vaste green area of the Sous le Bourg, one polifunctional (restaurants, welcoming, handcrafts, recreation) in the middle, structured into the mill, and one more cultural at south (library, mediateque…). Each of these areas talks with the limitrophs, inside and outside the area interested by the project, by open spaces and privileged paths. The different kind of paving remarks the different origins and functions.
3.1 The residential area
The northern front in the project provides the creation of some shutters, north-south oriented, made up by a complex of modulated real estates. Here the buildings regain the surrounding urban situation: in effect the buiildings are divided into cuts, spaces and interior slits that refer to the outside and link themselves to the landscape. This choice represents an effort to come up again the traditional system of passages and links that, following functional tasks, composed the typological form of village buildings in the past.
The project will is to refer to the medieval urban texture that experiences green areas and patches and enhances living quality.
The residential area will be composed by 35 housing units, 7 service units and 3 office (co-working) units; a visual axes will across, through inner ways, the west courtyard with the eastern open square. This will provide the union with one of the main shopping street (Rue de Bourg), while in the courtyard will be a parking for resident on the floors -1 and 0 and on the first floor an open square to the urban spaces northwest (Sous le Bourg object of the project) and towards south-east in the visual connection with the mill. The underground of the area will be destinated to parking.
The northern front of the residence will appropriate the large green area designed for Sous le Bourg connecting it with the structures of the new buildings: this will be a garden of breath and a link between the two areas, which amortises the meeting between the two fronts buildings provided by the projects.
3.2 The Moulin Neuf
The fulcrum of intervention, according to the instructions, is the mill’s historical complex, formed by the neoclassical building situated along rue de la Gare and the vaste structure of the Moulin Neuf. The project, maintaining the first one with its current tertiary functions, aim at remolding the entire complex into a polifunctional space, able to offer at any time of the day various services: hospitality, refreshment, recreation, socialization, both for insiders (locals) and ousiders (tourists, visitors…).
The main body of the building will be converted into an hostel, facing east the new square. Little cubes decorating the façade will give the impression of mouvement. At the north-west corner of the hostel the Les Moulins community centre will grow.
The mill’s plan develops than two handles, going east and west. The first one, now the ancient storage silos, will host a theatre; the second one, organized in two floors, will be at ground floor a cafeteria and at first floor the restaurant of the hostel. On the top of that there will be a wide panoramic terrace ovelooking the surrounding area and viewing the mountains chain. The cafeteria, situated between the two internal squares, will balance the open space offering a special location for summer outdoor film shows or other outdoor events.
3.3 The cultural centre
At the bottom of the avenue linking the mill and the southern part of the area interested by the project, the cultural complex will find place. Here, at the corner with rue de Chamossair and rue du Midi, there will be a new building hosting the mediateque with cafeteria and the municipal library. The whole complex will be structured in two blocks, connected by a greenhouse imagined as a real jardin d’hiver. That light glass structure will continue the visual perspective of the area’s axis till the avenue du Chamossair.
3.4 The adjacent areas
Farther than the the main axis of the project, a commercial and adminstrative area at east and a green and residential area at west, which includes the church and the professional shool, will be developed. Concerning the school, a special thought imagine the creation of a path made by gardens and green areas. Also, agreeing on the needs of linking the centre to the limitrophe communities, the proposal opens to the possibility of two additional railway stops right in correspondance to the two new squares. From there, it will be therefore easier to join the commercial area, developed around the place du Marché, the residential area and, of course, the polifuncional complex of Moulin Neuf. The implementation of a good railway connection, also, will open the city in direction of the castle, the rural areas and the mountain ski resorts.
Client: Europan 2011
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