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To address the issue of today interiors of French households, let certain theses defended by Monique Eleb, social psychologist and architecture professor at the University of Paris-Malaquais. In an article for the newspaper La Croix, in February 2011, Monique Eleb explains that:
Apartments and new houses are built around a classic pattern that favors the living room. All other rooms are smaller in size, the small kitchen is usually open or semi-open and the bathroom has no natural light. For twenty years, under the influence of the rising price of square meter, the disappearance of closets, cellars and laundry makes the issue of storage problematic. After having been a service area, the kitchen becomes a place more public where we receive for dinner, where children sit down to do their homework, where the mother receives a friend to enjoy a coffee, where teenagers settle with their friends. This room is an intimate place of confidence and discussions. The living room is no longer the only reception room. It should consist of several parts that allow the family to be together, while allowing everyone the opportunity to attend to different activities.
Single-family house concept with external extensions
The principle of a nanotower is a stack of singlefamily house on a tower of small height (8/10 floors). The units of a nanotower bring together spatial and architectural qualities of the single-family house.
The four orientations, vegetated outer extensions, annexes surrounding housing allow an appropriation of space similar to the case of a house. These qualities of the single-family house have created an outline of the interior, the orientation of spaces, their definition and their relationships. The housing is intended for a couple, the emphasis is on quality and size of main living spaces and their relationship with external extensions. In France, living spaces where you spend the most time are the living room and kitchen. These spaces are more and more open and linked together.
Indeed, in this prototype these spaces allow easy movement between inside and outside the corridors from the kitchen and living room, adding to their identity and generous open spaces.
The space of the living room and kitchen is a large open space free from any partitioning, offering a particularly attractive area for receiving guests and for the feeling of comfort. The challenge set for these areas is to make them evolving to meet other essential functions of the housing of a couple. Indeed, we seek to provide the opportunity to enjoy an extra room welcoming desk, bed and additional storage. To do this, we have developed a full height sliding mobile cabinet separating the kitchen area of the new changing space. The mobile cabinet can take many positions by sliding easily as needed and desired configuration space. It slides along a light facade storage, fixed to the floor.
This storage, called double skin is designed to receive storage, light compartments, and convertible furniture as bed or office. This double skin is made of replaceable modules that adapt to the needs of the evolving space.
The space housing, the office and the bed can then be isolated visually through a system of freestanding paper movable screens (Pipe & Drop). In the long run, if the couple wants a child, this space can be reconfigured with other double skin modules to provide an additional bedroom.
Approach of working with design students
The design of the interior was made jointly by the architects of the National School of Architecture of Grenoble (ENSAG) and master designers of Design for Architecture (DPEA). This cross-cutting work allows to mix spatial, functionnal, environmental, technic and aesthetic approach with a vision based on a human scale, comfort, function, form, appearance, color and use of materials.
We worked on two types of furniture. Furniture said integrated, directly involved in the architectural design of housing, and the furniture reported, participating more in the interior and atmosphere of each room.The desire to have spaces changing regarding the couple needs determines the inclusion of some of the furniture in the architectural design of housing. The mobile cabinet which is the focus of this expandability is built into the housing and can not be replaced by another furniture belonging to users.
However, the double skin modules can be changed to adapt to the new bedroom needs.
The mobile cabinet keeps its expandability with a new bedroom configuration for a couple. In the prototype presented in Madrid, the proposed architecture to the interior of the living room, the kitchen and the bedroom is conceived of to create different atmospheres in each room. In these areas above, it is indeed a proposal for the prototype, but future users are free to bring their own furniture. The kitchen is designed for the house needs, combining prefabricated and custom elements.
Development of the mobile cabinet
The mobile cabinet that separates the office and the kitchen is the subject of further consideration given the multitude of functions it hosts and complexity specific to mobility. His role of movable partition involves the design of a guidance system easy to handle by a motorization system. Filling this piece of furniture with electricity adds to the complexity of the guidance system.
The storage it hosts are designed to be in relation with the kitchen. Solutions for additional storage in the office make it possible to lighten the piece of furniture physically and visually.
The furniture inside the prototype Canopea is treated in several ways. We will build some of the furniture in the Grands Ateliers de l’Isle d’Abeau (for construction of the prototype Canopea) with a digital machine 5 axis, especially bedroom furniture. Another part of the furniture will be chosen from a catalog. The mobile cabinet, because of its particularity, its complexity, will be conceived and designed according to the functions conferred upon it. The essential components of the dimensioning of mobile cabinet is form and function. It is then built by a professional carpenter, as well as the double skin. Furthermore, we will build other furniture as suspended seats for the top floor common space and sofas for the living room.
Materiality of interior architectural elements
The Rhône-Alpes has an architectural heritage, a constructive relationship with earth material. These constructions use several techniques for earth encasement. In order to enhance this expertise and qualities of this material, we use it wisely for coating the interior walls, ceilings and false ceilings, as well as the floor of the bedroom and the bathroom. Earth used as a coating material provides outstanding acoustic and thermal qualities, and brings an interesting visual and olfactory comfort. It also helps to regulate the humidity of a space with its absorbent qualities. There are various techniques for applying the earth surface coating. For vertical walls, we use coated earth with a small percentage of straw and lime giving a little rough appearance, pleasing to the eye and touch.
The ceilings are composed of earth radiant panels set on supports made of Fibralith, they can incorporate light strips to illuminate the desired spaces. In the bathroom, we use another application technique of the earth, trowelled lime. This coating is composed of earth, sand and lime mixed with pigments and shod with a trowel. Once the coating applied, appearance becomes mottled and smooth with deep and warm colors. In addition to its aesthetic appearance, this coating is mainly used for wet rooms because of its remarkable waterproofing. We apply it in the prototype for covering walls and ceiling of the bathroom.
Bedroom floor is covered with a smooth earth coating because of its visual appearance and the comfort it brings to the touch.
The floor of the corridor, living room, kitchen and office are treated uniformly and materialized by wood. The soil of external extensions is composed of wooden decking.
This is a very open space on the large landscape.
«For many French, the relationship with nature is established at the vast territory, unlike other cultures where the report is much more directly to a need of physical contact.»
The top floor of the nanotower consists of a common area welcoming place of shared activities and meetings. It allows to share some domestic activities like washing and drying clothes. It hosts a summer kitchen and a barbecue in a very generous space and luminous, as well as a screening space and a play area for children. The interior conception allows to switch from an activity to another depending on the circumstances.
Description from the architects