Dominique Coulon adopts terracotta tones for riverside retirement home
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Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

Dominique Coulon adopts terracotta tones for riverside retirement home near Basel

Textured brick facades are complemented by terracotta-toned communal spaces in this elderly housing complex, completed by French office Dominique Coulon & Associés in a suburb of Basel.

The Strasbourg-based studio, led by architect Dominique Coulon, designed Housing for Elderly People for a site on the banks of the Rhine river.

The building contains 25 individual residences, along with a restaurant, workshop, computer room, vegetable garden and a pétanque court.

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

The choice of materials references the building's industrial setting in a former port area.

Red brick is used to clad all of the external surfaces. The architects chose a handmade brick with a slightly irregular shape to help create richly textured facades that catch the sunlight.

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

To match, much of the interiors  – including a hall at the centre of the building and the main staircase – are made from concrete that is pigmented to match the terracotta floor tiles. The aim was to create spaces with a "benevolent atmosphere".

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

The building was designed for the local municipality of the French commune of Huningue, which borders both Switzerland and Germany.

The structure comprises a series of interlocking geometric volumes. These are laid out so that communal spaces face out towards the river and the passing vessels.

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

Residents and visitors enter through glazed doors into the central hall, which connects to a terrace overlooking the Rhine on the opposite side.

The double-height hall is illuminated by daylight pouring in through the glazed walls, as well as through a series of circular skylights and windows lining one side of a first-floor patio projecting from the ceiling.

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

A prominent staircase positioned to one side of the space connects the two floors. Along with the building's other communal areas the staircase is intended to encourage impromptu interaction between the residents.

"The staircase stands at the centre of the building, rendering it unavoidable," claimed Dominique Coulon & Associés. "In combination with the wide central space, it invites mobility."

The distinctive form of the suspended patio is rendered in white to contrast with the rest of the hall and emphasise its presence as a separate volume that appears to float within the space.

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

To one side of the entrance, an angled wall and wooden flooring mark the entrance to a multipurpose activity room.

The rest of the ground floor contains staff facilities and the computer room, along with several of the 50-square-metre residences. The remaining accommodation is situated on the upper floor.

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

Each dwelling unit features a kitchenette, bathroom and sleeping area that can be closed off from the living space using a curtain.

Rooms on the upper floor are arranged around a communal living area featuring a library and fireplace set in front of a tiled wall.

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés

Dominique Coulon founded his studio in 1989. Previous projects include a school sports centre in Strasbourg and a theatre in a former French mining town, which made the architecture longlist for the inaugural Dezeen Awards.

Photography is by Eugeni Pons.


Project credits:

Architect: Dominique Coulon & Associés (Dominique Coulon, Olivier Nicollas, Gautier Duthoit)
Architects assistants: Javier Gigosos-Ruipérez, Diego Bastos-Romero
Competition: Gautier Duthoit
Construction site supervision: Olivier Poulat
Structural engineer: Batiserf Ingénierie
Mechanical plumbing engineer: Artelia
Cost estimator: E3 Économie
HQE specialist: Artelia
Fire safety system: Artelia
Acoustics: Euro Sound Project
Landscape: Bruno Kubler

More images and plans

Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Site plan
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Ground floor plan
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
First floor plan
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Long section
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Cross section
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés
Elderly housing in Huningue, France by Dominique Coulon & Associés