Home in the Garrigue-Nîmes

House in the garrigue region near Nîmes – AnnArnaldo Coutine, architects – Michel Boschi, supervisor architect In the heart of the garrigue conservation area, the gently sloping land faces south. Of note: the presence of walls from an ancient capitelle . The drystone structures in the site’s clapas , low walls and capitelle compose a “foliated` lithic landscape which, along with the fuzzy brushwood, the multifaceted olive-tree foliage and the delicate pine-needles, create a shimmering effect and highlight the subtle spectrum of ochres, greys and greens, both shiny and mat. The climate is marked by a high level of exposure to the sun: 140 hours/month in winter and 300 in summer, with diurnal temperatures that can vary between 10 °C in winter and 30 °C in summer. The mistral wind is frequent throughout the year, its speed ranging from 4 to 40 meters/second. The layout program was developed in cooperation with the future residents. The underlying design strategy revives the primary function of a shelter: protection from climate and intruders. The project aimed to interpret the landscape through correspondences rather than imitation. The materials selected for the façades are machine-finished in order to emphasize, by way of contrast, the stones and plants which constitute the site’s natural essence. Behind the extant drystone wall and in line with its contour, the main house and annex create an ensemble connected by an outdoor covered studio. The capitelle served as the project’s anchor point. Its stairway winds around a step-up platform, and its sheer mass fosters high thermal inertia, making the communal areas very comfortable. The north façade-screen, which is exposed to the mistral, has few and narrow apertures: slot windows. A break in the façade, with a slight overlap between the two parts, provides a weatherproof doorway. At ground level, the façade echoes the drystone in the facing clapas and pathways. It consists of horizontal lines using three different materials: zinc-quartz, Profilit glass (letting the light filter through), and protective railings in galvanized metal. Upstairs, the Profilit glass is arranged vertically or at a slight angle, perpendicular to the slope of the roof. The result is a glimmering surface that dissipates the actual bulk. The joints between glass plates underscore the green lines. The ochre thermal insulation and its grey links can be discerned through the glass. The south façade-screen, at ground level, is given two different treatments: - The first applies to the section under the veranda, where the communal living spaces are in continuum with the garrigue. Sunlight is regulated by high and narrow folding blinds in lacquered aluminum. - The second applies to the façades of the bedrooms, domestic service, garage, studio, and annex. Lacquered steel solar shades are fastened horizontally and slightly away from the wall for ventilation purposes. Aluminum blinds protect the glass apertures. Upstairs is the parents’ area. The wall of the façade is fractured in order to set up horizontal apertures, displaying 180° views. Sunlight and cold are regulated by sliding shutters with adjustable slats. The roof-line, which juts out slightly, offers solar protection during the summer. A horizontal glass strip reduces the overall bulkiness and also provides indoor cross-ventilation. The eastern and western gables are done in rendered brickwork, protected at ground level by trees and bushes, and upstairs by metal solar shading. The roof is made out of aluminum. The colour tones of the metallic screens, the light chalky gables, the white roofing and the grey-mauve brickwork were selected for their ability to reflect or garner sunlight. A swimming pool has been installed. Its tarpaulin covering is supported by two shipping crates, which are treated with thin multi-reflector insulating material and pierced with openings to allow for continuous natural ventilation. The changing room is located inside the crates. 1- A drystone shelter built by shepherds (17/18th century vernacular). 2- Piles of stones or large walls (trapezoidal or rectangular cross-section) often used to mark boundaries between properties.


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  • Radil Radenkov
    Radil Radenkov added a digital reference and updated
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com