Ilot Queyries

Bordeaux, France

Developed in the lab:

The future of the city

Dutch architects MVRDV have just completed a residential building in Bordeaux. Ilot Queyries is exceptional in many respects - but the striking ceramic outer skin is particularly so. The building sculpture is located east of the Garonne River, directly opposite France's largest cathedral, which marks the historic center of Bordeaux as an urban high point. With the new building, the architects want to give the life of this growing city a sustainable design. They mirror the master plan of the old town on the shore side of the Bastide Niel and make the new residential courtyard, which encloses a park-like green area, a visual orientation point in the quarter. In this way, the future of the city connects naturally to its history. A contemporary interpretation of Bordeaux's building traditions.


Ceramic landmark

When you think of ceramic façades, you probably think of small houses from southern countries. The dimensions here are completely different and yet the material proves to be the right choice for Ilot Queyries in many ways. The imposing new building not only catches the eye with its heights, depths and slopes - its radiantly bright, three-dimensional building envelope in particular attracts attention from afar. Differently profiled tiles of the KeraTwin® system make this possible. They skilfully catch the light and give the architecture a lively, sculptural appearance with sun reflections and shadow play, making it a ceramic landmark. The ceramic façades also spill over confidently onto the roofs. With sharp, precise edges, they contrast with the red plaster of the inner courtyard, which seeks its way out here and there in incisions, vistas and passages.

The large volume was commissioned by two clients, Kaufman & Broad and ADIM, and forms a unity with three smaller adjacent residential buildings of JA Joubert Architecture, the office of former MVRDV employee Marc Joubert, who had collaborated on the overall plan of the ensemble as well, and local office Flint. The architects of Flint also acted as the co-designers with MVRDV, both of the main building, and – together with Sabine Haristoy — of the landscape of the large courtyard and the surrounding urban spaces. According to MVRDV partner Bertrand Schippan the courtyard is a both space for the residents, and accessible for everyone, as part of the continuous public domain of the Ilot Queyries.

The building is situated at the edge of Bastide Niel, which is about to undergo a total makeover, urbanizing this fringe area of the city, keeping and reusing as much as possible of its heritage of warehouses, barracks and railway tracks and adding a large new program. In the future, Bastide Niel will be home to around 3500 households. In addition, it will contain offices, facilities of the University of Bordeaux, shops and a range of public facilities. MVRDV has made the masterplan for this 35-hectare large area, which will create a sustainable, predominantly pedestrian- and cyclist dominated environment of narrow streets, with the atmosphere of the centre of a historic town. As Schippan explains, ‘the Ilot Queyries falls just outside the confines of Bastide Niel but complies with all the guidelines we have set out for it.’

Blonde standard

Like for every building in Bastide Niel, the overall shape of the Ilot Queyries buildings allows for optimal daylight access in every dwelling, and at least two hours per day of direct sunlight reaching the ground floor. This explains the irregular angles of the roofs. The masterplan further prescribes that every building fills the envelope, but allows for cuts and openings, as long as they keep the overall contour of the volume intact. Another rule is that the exterior of every buildings is clad in a material which matches what Schippan calls the ‘blonde’ color of the stone traditionally used in Bordeaux, like marble, granite, concrete, or ceramics. The cuts in the building can be finished in other materials, and might be more colorful, as the Îlot des Queyries project of MVRDV demonstrates. The ‘meat’ of the building, under its light skin is revealing a warm red stucco.

The material is the key

For MVRDV, the Ilot Queyries project is a kind of laboratory of the modern city, combining intimacy with density, ecology, light and comfort. It includes 282 apartments, a mix of affordable and market-rate units, and a restaurant in the crystalline upper part of the complex. 200 metres of building length, 10,000 m2 of ceramic façades installed, varying their heights up to nine storeys, with a dynamic slope of 14 to 45 degrees - a glance at the key data makes it clear: without the support of a project-specific and trend-setting surface design, this architecture, which is as unconventional as it is identity-creating, would be difficult to achieve. In accordance with the architects' specifications, the ceramic specialists from Agrob Buchtal designed and produced custom-made versions of the ultra-modern KeraTwin® façade system for Ilot Queyries.

First of all, there is the special color: MVRDV carefully chose a light gray that blends the vertically laid panels into a harmonious façade appearance. The building blends in unobtrusively with the neighbouring architecture. The true design virtuosity of ceramics as a façade material is revealed in the combination of colour and three-dimensional texture. As a playmate of light, it brings an almost unlimited number of shades to the monochrome colour scheme. For Ilot Queyries, the specialists from Agrob Buchtal therefore developed ceramic elements with three different cross-sections according to the architects' specifications. Their raised profiling not only enlivens the colour, but also allows residents and passers-by to experience their building in the greatest diversity. 

Sustainable presence 

Apart from contextual and design considerations, the light exterior colour is also motivated by environmental concerns, as MVRDV partner Schippan points out, to give the building a high albedo that helps avoid the urban heat island effect. And without question, one of the most important parameters for sustainable urban design also lies in achieving long-lasting building life cycles. 
Agrob Buchtal ceramic façades are equipped with Hytect technology, an innovative surface with a self-washing effect. They guarantee that Ilot Queyries will continue to shine with unchanged and impeccable aesthetics even when a new zeitgeist overtakes the innovative architecture and speaks of it as a historical building sculpture in the neighbourhood. Until then, the antibacterial Hytect tiles not only defy all weather conditions, contamination as well as moss formation and impress with significantly low maintenance costs - they also reduce air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and actively contribute to healthier air quality: A gift to the inhabitants of the city of the future.

For the architects, the building is a kind of laboratory in which they explore urban sustainability as an interplay between intimacy and density - ecology and comfort. 200 metres of building length, 10,000 m² of building envelope and heights that vary up to nine storeys.

Ilot Queryies Bordeaux 26
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux k
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux j
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux h
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux 07
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux 02
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux a
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux 07
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux 02
Ilot Queyries Bordeaux a
Photographer: Ossip Architectuurfotogr. Rotterdam

Would you like to implement a project with us?