A Greenhouse-Like Home by the 2021 Pritzker Prize Winners Asks €695K in France

Designed in 1993 by architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, the two-level home comprises a wooden volume placed inside a metal structure inspired by an agricultural shed.
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From the street in Floirac, France, a quiet commune near Bordeaux, Latapie House appears to have no front door—its facade is made up of a succession of corrugated, fiber-cement panels that span the width of the building. Built in 1993 for a family with two children, the two-level home was designed by architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal of Paris firm Lacaton & Vassal. The architectural duo, who established the firm in Bordeaux in 1987, won the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize after assembling a portfolio of celebrated projects spanning more than three decades.

Architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal of French firm Lacaton & Vassal designed Latapie House on a tight budget for a family with two children in Floirac, France, in 1993.

Prior to joining renowned Pritzer Prize winners like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, and Rem Koolhaas, the Lacaton & Vassal founders won the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, also known as the Mies van der Rohe Award, for their renovation of a Bordeaux housing complex that "radically improved the space and quality of life of its occupants," according to the judges. In 2013, the firm’s renovation of Tour Bois-le-Prêtre, a 16-story Parisian housing tower dating back to the 1960s, won a Design of the Year Award from London’s Design Museum. 

The simple volume is set on a rectangular base with two open platforms. The street-facing facade features operable, corrugated fiber-cement panels that can open and close to reveal the entrance to the interior.

Situated across the Garonne River from Porte de La Lune—the historic Bordeaux harbor that’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site—the 1,830-square-foot Latapie House marks one of the earlier projects completed by Lacaton & Vassal. Operable, corrugated fiber-cement panels clad the street-facing exterior, acting like huge window shutters that completely obscure the home’s interior. When the panels are swung open, however, they reveal a series of glass doors that lead to the wooden volume placed within the metal structure. 

The home features a two-level wooden volume placed inside a metal structure inspired by an agricultural shed. 

Inside the two-level, modular building, a series of passageways connect the living spaces. On the first floor, the living room, dining area, and open kitchen are organized around a central "technical block" that houses the staircase and bathrooms. The architects chose different surfaces to indicate various uses for the ground-level spaces: black-and-white tiles mark the entrance, kitchen, and dining area, while the living room features parquet flooring. Throughout both levels, the walls are clad with wide-grain plywood, which gives the home a sense of warmth that counterbalances some of the industrial materials used elsewhere in the structure.

The kitchen opens up to the polycarbonate-clad pavilion at the rear of the home.

The interior and exterior plywood cladding has darkened over the years and now more closely resembles higher-value wood grades.

The rear of the home features a translucent, corrugated-polycarbonate frame that forms a greenhouse-like shelter around the wooden volume, extending the interior living spaces to the garden. Operable doors and clerestory windows at the top and bottom of the pavilion modulate temperatures in the indoor/outdoor living area, making the space comfortable for gatherings throughout the year.

The garden side of the home features transparent, polycarbonate cladding that forms a greenhouse-like, indoor/outdoor gathering area connected to the ground-level living spaces.

"The luminous volume of the greenhouse opens entirely onto the garden and allows the house to evolve with the seasons," reads the Architecture De Collection listing. "Thanks to its location in the east, it captures the first rays of the sun in the morning. In winter, it creates a thermal buffer that promotes energy savings for the heated parts of the wood volume." 

In warm weather, the pavilion’s operable clerestory windows encourage the stack ventilation effect, causing warm air to rise and the ground floor to remain relatively cool.

The polycarbonate pavilion gives way to a small garden with an additional outdoor seating area. A detached shelter, which can be used as a workshop, sits on the far end of the lot.

Maison Latapie, or Latapie House, in Floirac, France, is currently listed for €695,000 (about $779,136) by Architecture de Collection.

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