France, Vendee 2003-2005
Through an electronic correspondence, we developed a residence for a French couple in Vendee, on the West Coast of France. The climate is one of the sunniest in the country. The house is inward facing and focused around an internal courtyard. A masonry wall, square in plan, is sparingly pierced by windows framing selected views of the garden.
The only large expanse of glazing in the lounge is recessed at the back of the loggia to protect them from their neighbours’ gaze. This also protects the house from the heat in the summer while allowing the lower winter sun to shine through making the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
The plot of land is not large so we developed the house in harmony with the garden to create a seamless experience as you walk through this slice of country side. They will enter from the street through a gate opening into a wooded area planted with camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons. They will then reach a clearing facing the house. As they enter the house, they will see the garden that extends beyond the living area at the back of the property. In the foreground is a meadow and the background is planted with a screen of pine and other dune vegetation as if the sea was just beyond.
The house has no corridors. Instead, a number of blocks, serving the different practical functions of the house: eating, sleeping, working, form a succession of distinct zones which encase a fluid and open living area and internal courtyard. These communal spaces are flexible and can be used in diverse ways according to the time of the day and seasons. They are of different sizes; some are in the shade others in the sun; they open onto a courtyard, or another room or the garden. They make for a variety of routes through the building and the garden. In this way, the building permits parallel lives and yet encourages chance encounters.