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.
"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.
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."
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.
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.
"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."
Builder/ General Contractor: Boussiquet
Site architect: Isabelle Poulain Architect
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