Petit Bayle / Meld Architecture

Architects: Meld Architecture
Location: Garone, France
Client: Private
Structural Engineer: Arup (for schematic design, Contractor’s in-house for detail design)
Services engineer: Contractor’s in-house
Main Contractor: Arpose le Grand
Window sub-contractor: Duforet
Solar heating: Sarl Bedouret
Project Year: 2007
Gross external floor area: 265sqm
Total Cost: € 280,000
Photographs: Tim Crocker

© Tim Crocker © Tim Crocker © Tim Crocker © Tim Crocker

This house, in the Tarn et Garonne region of south western France, was designed by Vicky Thornton working in collaboration with Jef Smith of MELD. Built on a steeply sloping greenfield site it is expressed in two distinct parts: a rubble limestone base containing a bedroom, pottery studio, shower and utility rooms below the main living and bedroom spaces enclosed in a chestnut clad timber frame.

The Inflecting timber forms of the upper level are intended to respond to the approach, landscape and surrounding views. At one end, the high roof of the front porch, angled to look along the access road, slopes down with the narrowing entrance hall. This funnelling compression towards centre of plan is relieved by the top-lit staircase before the ceiling rises up into main living area with expansive, long views out across the surrounding landscape. The angled returns to the cantilevering terrace reveal views of the valley and distant hilltop town while concealing the adjacent houses.


Vernacular materials and elements create a pragmatic aesthetic particular to place. The rubble walls are typical of this part of France as are timber shuttered windows and sliding galvanised steel doors on local farm buildings. Here the timber shutters close flush with the walls to continue the board on board rhythm of the chestnut cladding, giving strong vertical shadow lines which compliment the heavy modelling of the rubble .

Internally the walls and ceiling to the upper level are lined in OSB, painted in the bedrooms to distinguish the more private spaces but left ‘fair faced’ on the remaining walls, giving a warm texture to the interior of the house. Joinery elements, like the kitchen cabinet doors and long shelving wall are expressed in phenolic ply, chosen for its robustness as well as to offset the OSB. At the lower level the ceilings and internal face of the external walls are faced in lime render with timber lined window seats created in the deep reveals.

© Tim Crocker

© Tim Crocker

Essentially robust and low tech, the house is highly insulated and utilises the potential for passive solar heating in the winter while the high thermal mass of the lower floor and large volume of the timber frame (with sun-shading shutters to south facing windows) enables a comfortable temperature to be maintained in the summer without the need for air conditioning or mechanical ventilation. The house incorporates: solar thermal panels for domestic hot water; rainwater harvesting for flushing wc’s and irrigation; a green roof; and uses locally sourced materials and labour.

Cite: "Petit Bayle / Meld Architecture" 06 Jul 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 May 2015. <>
  • Emma Durant

    RT @archdaily: Petit Bayle / Meld Architecture

  • urbArAmA

    RT @archdaily: Petit Bayle / Meld Architecture

  • Elemental Stone and

    Petit Bayle / Meld Architecture | ArchDaily: The house incorporates: solar thermal panels for domestic hot water..

  • Márcio Moreira

    Petit Bayle / Meld Architecture –

  • Marko

    Nice ext. shape. We got in Poland many that kind of projects from late 70′s. But that interior is horrible. Like live in recycled paper box.. Its a example for: How to kill the living space..

  • 3d

    Yep, it’s a good example of old vs new architecture. Well done.

  • Lucas Gray

    I also like the general form (the section is particularly nice) but find the interior images to be pretty bad. I don’t even mind the exposed particle board or whatever it is but the combination of the board and yellow lighting and furniture is atrocious. The floor is also poor in material and color.

    The concept and attention to sustainability is admirable though as is the general design. Its a very nice building that could have been amazing with a slightly redesigned interior.

  • THN

    Yes, the form and green thinking is really nice but I think I have to disagree on the materials and colors. If it would to have all the colors and floor materials you expected I think it would be to obvious. Now it kind of tikles you a bit.

  • Scarpasez

    It’s a bummer about that interior, because the form, organization, and concept for the house are all great.

  • thomas foral

    Petit Bayle / Meld Architecture | ArchDaily –

  • sullka

    Nice house.

    I just find somethnig rather strange.

    Why all the bedroom doors are facing the wrong way?

    Might be just a drawing error, or maybe not, if so, isn’t it strange that they open the doors toward the walls instead of opening them towards the space?

  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    Everyone seems to like the form. I have to say I don’t understand that. To me this looks like a cat-litter box or a roach motel. I can see no relationship to anything in the vernacular and no particular reason behind any of these decisions. To me this seems like a waste of the natural beauty of the countryside.