La Mantilla Complex, Montpellier, France

Jacques Ferrier Architecture commissioned to design La Mantilla Complex in Montpellier.

How were you commissioned?:
The project was commissioned by a consultation.

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What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:
The brief of the client consisted on planning to design a Super Plot with several very different programs; large public parking, commercial ground floor, a student residence, office, social housing and residential building. The approach of the studio was to host all this diversity of programmatic elements under a same writing, but at the same time generating a unifying element, the interior garden, accessible by all residents of the plot.

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How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:
The brief help us to introduce the concept that we finally developed. The Mantilla skin, concept inspired by the Mediterranean culture and standardizes the project under a same identity.

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How did your previous experience help you with this project?:
We have development the concept of double skin through many different project at the studio the last decade. Projects of similar scope and located on similar latitude.

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Can you explain the layout of the project:
The project consist of several buildings that are home of different program elements. They are all layout around an inner courtyard that federates the project and is open to all the habitants of the plot.

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What problems or challenges did you face?:
Each programmatic element of the project had a different developer. The most challenging part of the project was to convince all five developers that providing a united perception of the plot was far more convenient than promoting the diversity of each program aspect separately.

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What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:
The use of the lace pattern as the unifying theme, in this case the white mineral mantilla, came like other project done by the studio as an application of an innovative technique, with its strength and its modularity.

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How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:
The project is special because by simultaneously placing emphasis on both the use of the building and its users, the design is a highly contemporary project that avoids all fleeting architectural fashions. It is simply a building in the city, both generous and useful.

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