ERMONT (FR) - Designing a house extension is often one of the first commissions a young architect receives. Fabien Gantois, a runner-up in France's Europan 8 competitions, began his career with this project at Ermont, 25 minutes north-west of Paris.
The existing house occupied a long, narrow plot set back from the road. Within the site, two different worlds collided: the inner part of the block contained a group of trees protected by a preservation order, while a small garden tried in vain to provide a filter between the house and a block of garages clad in fibre cement.
Since the urban planning regulations prohibited any building in the wooded area, the extension had to be built on the roadside. The specifications were simple: a lounge, a master bedroom, a bathroom, an office space and a double garage. The narrowness of the plot led the architect to look for a solution that would bring the programmes into line and create a linear house that occupied the entire area authorized for construction. The choice of wood as a material seemed logical: low budget, quick and 'dry' construction, environmentally friendly, good thermal insulation. But there were aesthetic reasons too; the architect liked the fact that wood is a 'living' material, whose colour and texture change gradually over time.