Text description provided by the architects. The project consists of a complete refurbishment and expansion of a 19th century building, archetype of the houses found in Mediterranean Languedoc, formerly dedicated to habitat and exploitation of agricultural land, vineyard, and olive trees. Our clients wished to make this familial heritage used up to now for short holidays a fully-fledged primary residence.
The original house shows a soothed character by offering its south facing main facade to a wood of large intermingled oak and pine trees as the mere scenery for domestic life in the place. The scarcity of the apertures and the substantial thickness of the limestone walls break the intense sun of the region, and, vital benefit in the summer, bathe the spaces of darkness and slowness. The project design is intended to strengthen the Mediterranean dimension of the place where one lives inside throughout the day, and where one will now focus on idleness and pleasure.
The original building presents a multitude of defaced and inconsistent spaces. This situation is the result of numerous work executed over time without any global guiding principles, especially during the 70’s. Thus, it has been necessary to reconsider and study each space in the context of a new overall plan. The living spaces and the ground floor were given a new circulation logic. An axis crosses uninterruptedly and in a constant light the living room, the dining room and the kitchen, and finally leads to the garden through a new aperture, reachable from the building expansion. All along the construction, this sequence constitutes a cinematic made of sights on the woods. Only the circulation in the northern part is lit by large skylight in the roof. But as soon as are crossed the thresholds of the living spaces, we are rapidly back in the dim light. This deliberate choice is done in particular in the bathrooms.
Hexagonal terracotta tiles are preserved and their use is widespread across all circulations of the existing house and the extension. This traditional material is reinterpreted through a contemporary light, thanks to its association with steel plates arranged on the ground, with sandstone stiles, and by standardizing all walls by coating them with a white plaster.
Terracotta and steel, here are the two key materials of the project.
Powder-coated steel can be found on the window frames, the handrails and different furniture items that are especially tailored for the project. They represent an actualization of the traditional ironwork craft that exists in the region.
The building expansion.
While the old building used to be completely turned towards the wood, the building expansion offers a new direction, by facing the old village of Castries that we observe now from the top floor, and also from an untapped part of the garden that will host a swimming pool in the future. The construction comes as an addition to the existing building, starting from under the bottom of the slope through a strip made of stone.
Meanwhile, this strip constitutes a bedrock for the volume that contains a shed used by the family for her works and entertainment. This volume is smooth and white. It stands out in the landscape of rocks and plants.
Seen from the east, the extension is divided into two separate entities, like two totems traversed by the way to the garden, the staircase and the balcony.
This architecture is made up of a heavy masonry. By its thickness, it is intended to protect from the outside and meet the desire for intimacy in the different areas of the house. Steel and terracotta contrast with this morphology by their delicacy. One finds them in sun protections and trellises above the apertures, participating in the ornamentation work that we must develop in our region. In the inside, the work is shared by concrete and wood.