Despite its luxurious appearance, the bulk of the 195 units in Testimonio II (the name technically denotes the site, not the building itself) are in fact subsidized apartments, just one of the many perks enjoyed by the small but prosperous population of Monaco. The latest phase of Arquitectonica’s project for the principality is an elaborate civic enterprise aimed at keeping residents of Monaco at home and stemming the brain drain that has drawn many of its younger citizens abroad. Along with the residential component, the project includes daycare facilities and a new home for the École Internationale Monaco, a private K-12 school, as well as parking for 1,200 cars. The design divides the complex into two parts: a tower, containing a majority of the social housing, which will be one of Monaco’s tallest buildings; and a mid-rise structure with a sinuous facade that affords sensational views of the Mediterranean from multi-tiered terraces and balconies.
More sensational still is the way the design negotiates the topological complexity of the site: the two structures are built into a steep escarpment, with an eleven-story drop separating the thoroughfare above the ensemble from a central roadway passing through it, and then another six-story drop to the waterfront. Reminiscent of Barcelona’s Park Güell or New York’s Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Arquitectonica’s solution activates its tricky cliff-side locale and turns a challenging constraint into an architectural opportunity.