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Toull Ar Soner, Douarnenez, France 
Wednesday 04 Jan 2012
 
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Award Entry

Studio Urvois use open and minimalist architecture to create an intimate living space 

Through a play on transparency and reflection, earthworks and rugged textures, this family house blends into the sloped pine forest of the weathered Breton coast. The initial request was to fully enjoy the views onto the oceanic environment from inside and outside and by all weather conditions. The resulting square glass pavilion, set on a half buried masonry base, offers a sheltered viewpoint onto Brittany's infamously varying and beautiful skyscape, while the lower level organises the five bedrooms' views and access onto the garden and the bay beyond.

Both levels are clearly differentiated in their construction methods and material qualities. Above, the steel structure, enclosed in a semi reflective glass envelope visually merges with the surrounding landscape during the daytime and acts as a light box in the evening. The blurring of boundaries between inside and outside is reinforced by the continuity of the slate floor tiles' pattern and even level from the common room to the terrace. The glass pavilion's open plan common room is served by an off-centred wood clad box containing the kitchen, lavatory and storage space. The adjoining glass and wood staircase and its continuous wall of shelves wall lead into the lower private quarters anticipating their warmer material qualities.

As a complement to the very open and minimalist architecture above, the lower level meets all the requirements of a habitat for intimacy, comfort and convenience. The floor finish changes to a warmer oak flooring. The central hallway, sunlit on both ends by the stairwell and a glass ceiling, connects the bedroom area to various underground utility rooms. The linear arrangement along the seaside façade provides all bedroom suites with equal views. The masonry plinth's exterior walls are clad in coloured schist stone mirroring the material quality of the surrounding pine trees and ground cover, thus merging the house into the natural environment.

The vast interior spaces translate on the outside to a mirage-like vision. From the access above, the house appears as just the glass pavilion set on the slope, the lower level nestled, invisible, into the slope, whereas from the bay, the glass's reflection of the surrounding pine trees and the dark reddish schist cladding of the base make the house entirely disappear into the coastline.

The landscape, designed by Breton landscape architect Erwan Tymen, extends the architecture into the landscape through the use of linear retaining walls, mineral textures of gravel and stone elements, and the dark reddish colors of bark ground cover.

The technical details are as follows: a composite waterproofing and insulating material on the rooftop terrace, special reflective double pane insulating glass facades and a rainwater collection system which provides 40% of water needs in the household; under floor heating with an air pump.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
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Studio Urvois
studiourvois.wordpress.com
 
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