At first sight, the new La Chapelle district resembles many residential complexes implanted in rural areas: identical, aligned, unoriginal mono-colored geometric blocks - with a few architecturally more distinct ones interspersed here and there - surrounded by structured green patches, playgrounds and interconnecting paths, leaving one with an almost aseptic feeling. However, La Chapelle's pride is in the philosophy behind the project, which seeks to be one of inclusion, harmony and social landscaping.
Located in the Communes of Lancy and Plan-les-Ouates, the first stage of this project (La Chapelle I) which in fact took several decades of consultations to be approved, was inaugurated in 2014, followed by the completion of its second phase (La Chapelle II) in September 2018. Covering an area of 65'700m2, the complex now includes 18 buildings comprising 692 eco-friendly apartments, using at least 50% renewable energy (Minergie). 60% of the 2,000 residents benefit from State-controlled rents, and only a small percentage of the apartments were for sale. As Martin, who lives in La Chapelle with his family, enthusiastically stated: “we were delighted to be among the first residents here. We love our apartment and the quality of life.”
The area is easily accessible by tram or bus, making it convenient to rapidly reach the center of town, railway station or airport, as well as the neighboring Communes of Carouge and La Praille. And for those who need a car to reach their destination, the “autoroute de contournement” is ideally at their doorstep. La Chapelle sees itself as an “eco-mobility” environment where bicycle and pedestrian paths are the priority, and parking spaces are deliberately limited.
Social integration as a driving force
Key to this project is the aspiration for a true social, intergenerational and intercultural mix. By mainly allocating apartments to young families and the elderly, and including a nursery, a school that are already operational and an activity center for the elderly in the complex, interaction is strongly encouraged. A volunteer at the center described how “an event held at the school where the elderly danced dressed in their national costumes was a great success, especially with the young children. La Chapelle shows that a mix of generations is enriching to all”.
The center for the elderly comes as a pleasant surprise in this otherwise architecturally stark environment. This old house steeped in history is surrounded by a garden with old trees and reflects the area before the new constructions. And as for the neighboring nursery, “Les Couleurs du Monde”, it is a warm, welcoming wooden structure bustling with children.
La Chapelle's other specificity comes from its parks, trees - including oak, beech, cherry blossoms and pear - and especially its communal vegetable gardens. With an ongoing focus towards communication and integration, in 2015, over 60 families were allotted a vegetable patch and have since been busy growing various varieties of fruit and vegetables.
The next step: Les Sciers
The final stage of this massive project will come to term between 2020 and 2025, with the construction of 17 additional buildings. Some 4,000 residents of all walks of life will then be living in the completed La Chapelle-Les Sciers community. Ultimately the project will host some 1300 residential units and office flex space.