Budget house, Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire
SAINT-CYR-SUR-LOIRE (FR) - North-west of Tours, on the opposite side of the River Loire, lies the commune of Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire. There, within the restrictions of a limited budget and environmentally mindful design, architect Jean-Charles Liddell has realized the rehabilitation and extension of a small family house. Described by the architect as a sort of 'parasitic architecture', the 60m2 original structure and 15 m2 extension combine with a substantial garden plot and existing shed in a deliberately archaic plan. Dubbed the 'MagicKub' house, its site is the old orchard of a house built in the 1960s, closely surrounded on three sides by its neighbours. The home adapts the classical typographies of the surrounding old residential borough, taking a contemporaneous stance that nevertheless draws inspiration from its context.
The programme of MagicKub is based upon optimum compactness. Materials are basic and rough, used according to their mechanical properties. The structure consists namely of glass (spacious allowances intended to bring a wealth of light to the interior), untreated wood panelling (delivered to the site pre-assembled and constructed in two days), and sliding shutters of steel mesh (offering both privacy and solar protection). Ecological considerations include wood fibre insulation, dual-glazed windows, floor heating (with high-output wood stove) and a passive solar configuration. Untreated Douglas fir forms the framework and roofing, and also the cladding, which will with age become a silvery grey, echoing the galvanized steel interior staircase and protective exterior shutters.
In front of the house an area of existing fruit trees functions as a buffer from the neighbours, while the extension, containing kitchen and dining areas, links the garden and existent structure. Openings in the structure's cubic forms have been configured with respect to orientation and views. The sleeping areas' vertical windows overlook the garden, the 'external room' at the back is hidden from the eyes of the neighbours and the mesh metal shutters pixelate outward scenery while enabling a diffuse quality of light to penetrate the interior.
According to the architect, 'The upper large sliding shutter on the south side is activated only twice a year… to mark the change of the seasons.' Closed at the end of spring, it allows for maximum passive solar contribution through the summertime, when it permits a thin band of light to permeate the house. Opened with autumn's arrival, it increases available sunlight during the colder months. In this manner light becomes another of MagicKub's functional materials. Playful effects between natural and artificial light are achieved with the installation of two porous walls on the ground floor, separating the space and filtering the day's progression like folding screens. Overall the ambient typology of the house emphasizes a unique blend of light and structure, all accomplished with a budget of less than €130,000.
Tuesday | 6 July | 2010 | France | Dutton R. Hauhart