Inspired by the Mediterranean Sea’s coral reefs, French design firm Atelier Fernandez & Serres enveloped an apartment block with a pink mashrabiya-style facade. Located in France's eastern Pyrenees, the residential building houses 74 apartments for students and researchers studying at the Oceanographic Observatory, a coastal science facility at the Banyuls-sur-Mer waterfront. Mimicking the tendrils of sea anemones, the ornate pink lattice provides a screen for privacy as well as a filter for natural light.
Located directly on the waterfront, the six-story tall building is almost entirely encased by the wavy concrete screen save for the second floor restaurant’s long horizontal window that offers panoramic views of the sea. In addition to two floors dedicated to communal space, the building consists of four floors of apartments. Corridors, which double as balconies, wrap around the perimeter of the living spaces and are striated by shadows cast from the colorful lattice.
The coral-pink facade, which glows an earthy red-orange in the Mediterranean sunlight, was prefabricated on site. The architects then used a mathematical algorithm to assemble each strand together into irregular modules that evoke the look and rhythm of a coral reef. The Banyuls-sur-Mer apartment building was one of fourteen projects shortlisted for the 2013 AR+D Awards for Emerging Architecture.