Montpellier is a city in southern France, less than 10km inland from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is here that a collaboration in architectural design, evoking natural forms, was created by architects Fujimoto; Laisné; Roussel and OXO Architectes.

L’Arbre Blanc, which translates as White Tree, was the winning design of Montpellier city council’s competition in 2013 that asked for a “modern folly” to “enrich the city’s architectural heritage”.

Created with the contour of a tree in mind, the 17-storey building contains 113 apartments all with cantilevering balconies some extending to 7 metres. An art gallery and separate restaurant (suitably named The Tree) sit at its base and a bar on the top floor allows amazing panoramic views of the surrounding countryside all the way to the coast.

The designers tell us that the future resident will be offered not a single apartment, but a living space. Everyone will choose a location and the plan that suits them best among five different possibilities of development. The terraces are extensions to the main living space and each apartment will have annexes that will contribute greatly to the quality of life of housing, including a storeroom and a separate laundry room. The position of the apartments and terraces means that your privacy from neighbours living on other “branches” will be protected.

Photography is by Cyrille Weiner.