Nestled near a forest in the municipality of Thônex, Geneva is a blue-stained timber and terracotta-brick structure called the Gardeners House. Designed by architecture studio Cabinet, the quaint-looking building is intended to be used for workshops for gardeners, and leisure activities for locals. It’s a simple and minimalist structure with a single story, except for a boxy lantern on top of it, which instantly makes it stand out. The lantern holds a spherical light.
“Surrounded by trees, it would become invisible, but its urban position is at a strategic point at the crossroads of street and park paths, and our ambition was to make it a public building,” said Cabinet founders Fanny Noël and Diogo Lope. “All of this seemed like good reasons to make the building more visible and to mark its presence in the urban space.”
The lantern functions as an extra touch, that helps the otherwise almost mundane building stand apart from its surroundings. When switched on, the lantern illuminates the interiors of the workshops, and signals to the residents that the gardeners of the grounds are working. The light moon lights up both the interior and exterior, hence keeping the inhabitants informed, and creating “a dialogue between a hermetic program and surroundings”.
“The main function of the building is a workshop for gardeners responsible for the maintenance of the park, but we suggested to the client to integrate a bigger kitchen and dining space with independent access that could be used by the inhabitants of the neighborhood,” said Noël and Lopes. “They welcomed this idea, and we hope that events can happen in the future as it would stimulate a closer relationship between the building and the community.”
Occupying 205 square meters, the Gardeners House accommodates a communal kitchen, shared leisure space, and toilet facilities. These areas can be accessed via one entrance, while another entrance leads to two connected workshop spaces. The workshops and public spaces are connected via a central hallway. The hallway also connects an office and changing rooms.
The exterior of the building is quite pretty and subtle dominated by a pleated exterior built from blue-stained pine. A water fountain is located at the center of one facade, while the terracotta brick walls support the thick concrete roof beams, which mimic a pergola, and allow light to stream in from the skylights above. The interiors are a harmonious mix of industrial and homely elements, creating a space that is clean, minimal, and functional.