Text description provided by the architects. This building, which had remained empty and abandoned for a long time, is located on a floodplain in a rather attractive area. Initially a mill, judiciously placed along a stream, it then became a small ironwork workshop, hence the presence of the large brick fireplace. Finally, it became a farm, where men and cattle coexisted.
We were confronted with a classic case of an old and poorly built farm, poorly maintained over the years, needing an important renovation with a “reasonable” budget. The architecture and site are atypical and attractive, but the building is much too big and badly damaged. Several contenders had, before us, studied renovation projects. However, they all had given up, faced with the scale and complexity of the work.
To carry out this project, we had to make some radical choices:
- Remove part of the construction: the East wing,
- Simplify and consolidate the existing structures,
- To allow only a few "architectural generosities" in the project.
The project strives to enhance the building and connect it to its site. We dared to “disfigure” the south-facing facade, which is in direct connection with the meadow, the stream, and the southern sun. The large bay window (6m x 4m) is the main architectural intervention of the project. It “absorbs” the landscape, the trees, the ducks, the running water; it offers the contemplation of this portion of nature, through which one can observe the gradual changing of the seasons.
Given the risk of flooding, the main living areas are placed upstairs: living room, kitchen, bathroom, 3 bedrooms, terrace. To live happily, let's live high up! This pedestal magnifies the frame: the vision plunges through a simple sheet of glass that discreetly maintains the inner comfort zone.
A very large rectangular room of 120 sqm accommodates the collective living spaces. This large space is connected with the garden to the south, and the civilization to the north. The new framework stretches over the 8m range of this large room. The trusses are reinterpreted in a minimal form: one tie beam and two rafters are enough to create the essential beam that will support the new roof.
During the initial studies, we gradually realized how damaged to building actually was. The roofs, framework, partitions and wooden floors were removed; only the 4 peripheral walls were maintained and consolidated with a new paving and an intermediate slab. In order not to overload the walls and the fragile foundations, the slab consists of wooden slabs which are left exposed and visible, shaping the ground floor ceiling.
The lower level accommodates the entrance and a new potential for extra 3 rooms, which could be converted later. A geothermal system with horizontal sensors buried in the meadow makes it possible to heat the 250 m2 of living space at a lower cost. We were able to keep the big chimney, an important symbol for this place and the entire village.