A Prefab Cabin Made From 100% Locally Sourced Wood Pops Up in France

A Prefab Cabin Made From 100% Locally Sourced Wood Pops Up in France

By Lucy Wang
A trio of architects use sustainably harvested timber to build an experimental home in the Loire Valley.

In central France, the 19th-century Château de la Bourdaisière has welcomed the latest addition to its menagerie of nature-focused exhibitions: a prefabricated home made from 100% wood.

Architects Matthieu Boustany and Benoist Desfonds of LOCAL and Peeraya Suphasidh of SUPHASIDH designed and built the structure after winning the castle’s 2017 design competition, which called for a 600-square-foot pavilion built entirely of wood that could be disassembled and moved if needed.

Made of on-site timber processed with local labor and CNC technologies, the 100% Wooden House "links the origins of construction to today’s high-tech industry," according to the architects.

"The use of CLT in the composition of the facade ensures large openings with minimal interruptions," say the architects. "We also used a structural element as a finished surface for the interior of the dwelling."

"The design process involved the search for spatial qualities that would change our idea of what a living area could be, and the exploration of wooden construction systems," explain the architects.

Following several delays due to permitting and budgeting (the initial budget of 150,000 Euros was cut down to just 82,000 Euros), the architects began construction in the fall of 2019. Their use of 3D modeling, prefabrication, and cross-laminated timber helped shorten the construction timeline to one-and-a-half months, just in time for the Bourdaisière Castle’s 2019 Forest and Wood Festival.

The architects took chestnut trees that were felled three years ago at Château de la Bourdaisière to a local sawmill, where the logs were processed into boards for the facade.

To lighten the building’s footprint, the architects elevated the structure on piles made from raw acacia wood, selected for its water-repellent qualities. Raw chestnut trunks processed with CNC machines are set atop the piles. Cross-laminated timber was used for the building’s structural frame, which is fitted with wood fiber insulation.

"The main challenge was to get carpenters that are used to very standardized structures, to work on a small and complex project," explains Boustany. "Because of the budget issue, we couldn’t work with small carpenter companies that would have been able to take more time to analyze and execute the project. We had to be very patient and accept some compromises to realize the project."

All elements of the build were pre-cut off-site for rapid assembly—save for the chestnut cladding, which was cut on-site. The untreated facade will develop a silvery-gray patina over time.

Instead of a traditional layout of rooms and hallways, the open-plan interior wraps around a bathroom—the only enclosed space in the home—with a series of stairs and a slope leading to an open-sky courtyard above.

"The interior topography gives a hierarchy to the different functions: standing in the kitchen to face the view, sitting at window height in the living room; using a slope as a sofa. The room on the higher level guarantees privacy while generating a covered terrace below it," add the architects. "Every volumetric move creates a new opportunity."

"We wanted the architecture and indoor topography to turn into furniture," says Boustany of the interior ramp that doubles as a sofa.

Large apertures in the facade create a constant connection with the forest and fill the interior with natural light. "The raw logs in the smooth interior space recall the natural origin of the material, and bring the forest into the house," note the architects, who extended the living space to the outdoors with a Douglas pine deck.

A view of the double-height living room from above.

A view from the central courtyard that opens up to the forest canopy and sky.

"We love the building’s awkwardness in the forest," says Boustany. "We enjoyed working closely between the structural solutions, the interior space, and the facade. Everything is linked, which we believe makes a very honest building."

The client and owner of the 100% Wooden House furnished the interiors. The home will open up as a temporary rental between May and October.

Section of 100% Wooden House

100% Wooden House interior diagram

Related Reading:

This Tiny 3D-Printed Cabin Makes a Big Statement About Sustainability

The Ultimate Prefab Guide: 65 Resources by Location, Construction, and Price

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: LOCAL / @local_eu and SUPHASIDH

Builder/ General Contractor: Boussiquet

Site architect: Isabelle Poulain Architect

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