The story of the Villa B. follows the classic scenario of construction on a bare site, at the edge of a city, in the middle of market gardens, on a strip of land that is well-oriented. Averse to the stereotypes of the private housing development on the edge of which it is located, and inspired by the image of F.L. Wright’s Usonian Houses and Case Study Houses, the designers make use of the site’s potential to apply the basic principles of the bioclimatic approach. The house quickly takes the shape of a compact whole that presents a simple timber cube very open to the surrounding landscape.
The bioclimatic approach, a pure attitude to architecture
Benefiting from a long experience of dry construction and timber frame construction, and well-versed in environmental questions for more than twenty years, the firm chooses to design with a bioclimatic approach. It experiments with several options and technical solutions with which it builds a strategy. Looking into different options for construction and thermal aspects, the firm investigates different technical possibilities for insulation, heating and air handling, from which it chooses a consistent solution that is appropriate for the family’s ways of life and their ability to adapt to induced behaviour.
The plan: through views and transparency, intermediate and multipurpose spaces
The plan is efficient, almost square, measuring 10 x 11m. Along the west of the ground floor is a garage finished in black pannels timber composite, extended by a canopy. Free and open, it is organised around a central core that contains the services: cellar, networks, shower/bath room, and kitchen. All the rooms form a ring around this hub. Uninterrupted through views and continual contact with nature are maintained by using sliding partitions and large glazed areas facing each other. A strip of ancillary and storage areas runs along the full height of the west wall. The overall scheme creates a multipurpose space, open onto the south and north gardens and the patios. Consistency is created between the building and the external spaces, which enhance each other. Thus the living area becomes larger than the space delimited by the walls.
The construction is simple. It is a timber-framed house, erected on a concrete slab, with a concrete topping laid on the upper floor. The structure is a prefabricated modular system. The roof insulation consists of 40 cm thick expanded cellulose wadding, and the wall insulation consists of mineral wool with woodwool on the outside, giving a total thickness of 32 cm. On the ground floor, three large triple-glazed panels – with a fixed part and a translating opener – run along the elevation at ceiling height and frame the landscape. On the upper floor, in the bedrooms, low tilt-and-turn windows have a fixed window-breast at bed height. On the facades, perforated larch cladding is fixed to double 5 x 5 cm wall plates to further increase the ventilation effect. The cladding gradually greys naturally, without any treatment, with uniform silvery tinges. Inside, a lining of knot-free, light-coloured polar panels is used with great uniformity for built-in cupboards, furniture and storage elements. Elsewhere, white plasterboard adds to the soft, brightly-lit atmosphere of the house.
Space heating is mainly provided by floor heating on the ground floor and the upper floor. It is supplied by a condensation gas boiler and solar panels. The double-flow ventilation system is connected to a glycolated ground-air heat exchanger. When necessary, it can provide additional ventilation at night. During cold peaks, wood-burning stove covers additional heating needs, calculated for the overall volume and instantaneously, particularly for the upper floor. Waxed concrete and floor heating provide very pleasant thermal comfort. The concrete topping, which is chosen despite the timber structure, provides uniformity of floors on the ground floor and upper floor. In addition, the roof is planted with a sedum covering, and rainwater is collected in an underground tank.
Translator: P.Mc Cavanna