You might say there was nothing original about an estate made up of small timber-clad houses in the heart of the Landes. And yet the road that leads to it is strewn with fragments of the so-called “built environment”:unfinished estates that seem to begin and end nowhere, streets that are too wide, roundabouts, and low-lying houses whose walls are rendered in colours that beggar definition.
Against this backdrop, the Saint Pierre du Mont project is like an oasis in the desert. Beside the modern architectural design, what is immediately striking when you enter the estate is the tension that has been created between the units by making the gaps between them smaller that you would usually be expected. This radical approach borders on overcrowding. Streets, gardens and parking areas are kept to a minimum. A single access road wraps round the estate, with narrow lanes leading off and winding between the housing units. With a little imagination, one might almost think the estate had been cut out of a single block of wood.
The housing, ranging from studio apartments to 5-bedrooms flats, forms small interblocking units that are similar, and yet always different. This random distribution brings a sense of formal organisation and prevents monotony. Isn’t belonging to an constituated, homogeneous whole while remaining unique and different the necessary condition for any human settlement?