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The DI-VA house, Lyon, France

Friday 06 Jan 2012

Unleash the DI-VA within

Georges Fessy 
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French architects Tectoniques assemble striking house in just five days 

The DI-VA house, whose name is a play on the owners' names, occupies a previously empty space in the residential Croix-Rousse district of Lyon.

Given the narrowness of the frontage, and the fact that there is a building directly opposite, the architects decided to adopt a judo-type strategy. The house turns away from direct confrontation, and exploits chinks in the landscape in order to optimise the views and ambiances. Entirely prefabricated, it was constructed in less than a week. Its sudden appearance came as something of a surprise to the neighbours, whose reactions were mixed. But in spite of its uncompromising colour and form, the building does not express any aggressiveness. On the contrary, it takes its place quite harmoniously in the surrounding topology, with tranquillity and a considerable degree of discretion.

As champions of prefabrication and "dry construction", the architects proposed that wood should be used throughout. Besides its ecological advantages, this meant that the construction process was rapid, and well suited to the constrained context of the operation. Cross-laminated wood was used for the walls, partitions and floors.

The different elements were produced by the Austrian firm Binderholz in the form of macro-components, in pine, which is light in colour and homogeneous, with an unobtrusive grain and few knots. The macro-components were delivered ready for assembly by Arbosphère, which specialises in this technique. And it might be noted that the assembly process itself took just five days, a lot less than the design phase.

The outside of the house is dark, the inside light. Its smooth, taut skin covers a soft, natural interior. This is an archetypical architectural formulation: protective outside, nurturing inside.

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