The newly completed Ascension Paysagère (“Landscape Ascension”), a 12-story residential complex located at the confluence of two rivers in the west of Rennes, France, is the result of a collaboration between MVRDV, co-architects ALL, and real estate developer Groupe Giboire. The 10,550-square-metre project occupies a crucial transitional space between Rennes’ city center and its outskirts, providing much-needed density in response to the city’s growing population.
MVRDV’s Ascension Paysagère Technical Information
- Architects: MVRDV + ALL Architects
- Location: Rennes, France
- Client: Groupe Giboire
- Sustainability certification: Passivhaus (34 apartments)
- Topics: Sustainable Architecture
- Size and Programme: 10,550 m2 residential (138 homes – 37 social housing, 42 affordable housing, 59 market rate) and commercial spaces
- Project Year: 2022
- Photographs: © Ossip van Duivenbode
In Ascension Paysagère, we have delivered a project just as we hoped it would be, and exactly what is needed in this location. With the river and the park opposite, the site offers a wonderful location for people to live.– MVRDV founding partner Nathalie de Vries
MVRDV’s Ascension Paysagère Photographs
Featuring 138 homes in a variety of sizes and price ranges, Ascension Paysagère caters to a diverse range of residents, including 37 units for social housing. The complex also includes commercial spaces and newly created public spaces in a lush green waterside environment, enhancing the quality of life for both residents and the surrounding community.
Text by the Architects
In 2018, the French magazine l’Express called Rennes the most liveable city in France. Combined with the arrival of a new TGV connection in 2017, this attractiveness has led to a continued population growth. The many heritage buildings in the city’s center have shifted this expansion pressure outwards, requiring the periphery to grow either outwards into the countryside or – preferably – upwards with a pleasant approach to densification. Positioned precisely where the Ille River joins the Vilaine, across from the green floating park of the Jardin de la Confluence, at the end of the now-pedestrianized thoroughfare of Mail François Mitterrand, Ascension Paysagère’s highly visible location required an exemplary approach to this perimeter densification.
Ascension Paysagère takes inspiration from geological formations. The project comprises two curving buildings, one large and one small, with gradually receding slopes. By the river and at points where the project approaches its neighbors, the buildings are low, acknowledging the expansive, low-rise context. Elsewhere, however, the design gradually steps up into three peaks, reaching the maximum 12-story height in the center of the site. The terraces created by these gradual step-backs are decked with pots filled with greenery, extending the lush atmosphere of the riverbank upwards to the apartments, even at the very top of the building. On the western corner of the larger block, in between the building’s two ‘peaks,’ a garden including fruit trees emphasizes this green approach.
The façade reinforces the connection to geology. It features both matte and glossy ceramic panels in five different tones of grey, arranged into stratified layers: dark and mostly matte near to ground level and lighter and glossier at the top levels. At night, lighting reinforces this effect, with more lights integrated into the ceramic panels at the top of the building. As a result, the design seems as if it truly belongs – an outgrowth of the environment itself, which feels natural even as it significantly densifies this part of the city.
The challenge was to allow as many people as possible to live here without destroying those qualities. We do this by creating an ensemble of two buildings with silhouettes like small hills, covered with terraces and balconies to allow the inhabitants nice outdoor spaces that are already provided with large pots for plants and trees.– MVRDV founding partner Nathalie de Vries
Every apartment is provided with an outdoor space – either a terrace, a balcony, or a loggia. Each of these comes complete with custom plant pots fitted with automatic irrigation as well as a dedicated water tap to help residents care for their piece of the landscape. The terraces create a village-like
MVRDV’s Ascension Paysagère Plans
MVRDV’s Ascension Paysagère Image Gallery
MVRDV is an international architecture firm based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was founded in 1991 and is known for its innovative and avant-garde designs. The firm’s work spans across a wide range of building types, including residential, commercial, cultural, and public facilities. MVRDV’s designs often incorporate elements of playfulness and surprise, and their buildings often challenge traditional architectural forms and conventions. The firm is committed to creating sustainable and socially responsible designs that enhance the quality of life for both residents and the surrounding community.
- Founding Partner in charge: Nathalie de Vries
- Partner: Bertrand Schippan
- Director MVRDV France: Nicolas Land
- Design Team: Catherine Drieux, Antoine Muller, Mickael Pors, Quentin Rihoux, Roxana Aron, Boris Tivarski, Maxime Cunin, Jean-Rémi Houel, Anne-Sereine Tremblay, Marie-Aline Rival, Evguenia Zioga, Javier Cuenca Solana, Nicolas Land, Charlotte Kientz, Sylvain Totaro, Gabrielle Evain, Manon Vajou, Khanh-Duong Pham, Mélanie Rolland
- Co-architects: ALL
- Environmental advisor: Franck Boutté
- Structural Engineer: SERTCO
- MEP: ICOFLUIDES
- Contractor: Sogea
- Project coordination: OBI INGENIERIE
- Cost Calculation: CDLP