ECO -ARCHITECTS TURNING TO WOODEN HOMES IN FRANCE, AND THE ROANNAIS
A bit of news relating to ecology and property build here in France!
We've been tracking the growing interest in all things ecological regarding house-building in France.
A recent article in 'The Connexion' newspaper ( aimed at expats, and people wanting to live or holiday in France – we have a link to their website on our home page), has highlighted the increasing number of wood houses being built across France. Sales are up 50% since 2000.
Apparently, following last year's government's 'Grenelle de l'environnement' wooden houses' ability to reduce energy consumption has seen architects and builders take an even greater interest in the idea.
The article in The Connexion goes on to say that benefits to the home owner include an average 30% saving on electricity bills due to the natural insulation properties of wood.
The buildings are also seen as blending better into a natural landscape and can be combined with building materials such as steel, glass and stone.
In 2006 these houses represented just 4% of the market.
Now 20% of manufacturers say they would consider using wood for construction. The homes cost 15-30% more compared to properties made with concrete and traditional building materials, because most of the wood is imported.
Italian architect Antonino Cascio has built a five-bedroom wooden house (images featured), with a south-facing glass front, in a forest in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes.
The glass front looks over a wooded landscape and swimming pool.
A wooden platform was built in front of the house which left the roots of surrounding trees intact and was built around any large trees growing up through the terrace.
Mr Cascio's wife Renèe said: "We did not want to use concrete as this would have cut into the tree roots.
With the trees growing through the terrace, it feels a bit like living in a nest."
The northern wall of the house which receives less sun, is built from wood panelling, with very small windows.
The wood used for the exterior framework, interior wooden staircase and parquet floor is imported from Africa.
The east and west façades of the house are built on a wooden frame with ochre-coloured plaster matching the red colour of the stones of the region, replacing a costly all-wood finish.
A sloping roof prevents a build-up of falling leaves.
Estelle Phillips, The Connexion, also writes that other popular wooden house models include a house in the Var which fits against a rock wall and recently won first prize at the "Salon européen du bois" (wooden home exhibition) held in Grenoble.
Another type made in Yvelines (Ile de France) mixes ideas used in the construction of Australian colonial houses and Feng Shui – the concept of a feeling of well-being created through the position of objects in the home.
Brian and Lucy Franklin's 'Le Cuvage' home in the Roannais, Rhone-Alpes also pays passing homage to wood-built property.
This former wine-making barn has been carefully renovated, restored, and architecturally designed with the overall intention of keeping many of its redeeming ecological features.
The south-facing facade being fundamentally retained from the
original building, apart from the obvious introduction of new window and door openings.
The ancient outer structure of the walls were built traditionally of 'pisé' ( basically a natural mud and soil compacted surface applied over rough-cut local red stone.
The original walls being over 2 feet thick, with excellent insulation properties. the exterior pisé was sealed before a natural, pisé-coloured render was applied.
They now, therefore, have rooms that are desirably cool in the hot summer months, and heartingly warming during the frequently very cold winters.
All the main wooden roof structure and wood beams were retained, and at the rear on the north-facing facade where part of the original sloping roof was cut away to create a large
10m x 45m terrace, local pine wood cladding was used in conjunction with large 10-foot, black aluminium windows to create a natural, but contemporary 'look', as well as bringing the early morning light into the vast interior spaces.
Their, locally famous French Architect, Daniel Faisant, ensured the whole exterior look was in keeping with the local region.
The north façade, with magnificent views over the foothills of The Beaujolais, was designed to both blend in with this countryside landscape, and provide maximum light.
Brian Franklin said: "We get the best of both worlds here, traditional French character farm-building at the front, and a real 'taste' of modern contemporary-style living at the back!
It's absolutely great!"
He explains: " When our guests arrive during the summer period many of them cannot believe how light and spacious the place is, and how high the beamed ceilings are – over 15 feet!"
A photo, to be fair, like the ones featured here, cannot do 'Le Cuvage' justice',
Seeing is believing!
You can also rent 'Le Cuvage' throughout the year, so for more information visit Brian and Lucy's dedicated website to the Roannais at: www.purefrancenow.com