House in the Trees / OECO Architectes

House in the Trees / OECO Architectes

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Text description provided by the architects. The clients, a couple from the Paris region planning to retire in the south of France, approached the agency for their new home. The house will serve as their primary residence and also offer a seasonal rental activity. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all communications and design discussions with the clients were conducted via video call, which was an unusual but successful approach. The first in-person meeting occurred when the construction work began.

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Located in a golf development neighborhood on the Atlantic coastal dune, the design ideas aimed to preserve as many existing trees to provide a wooded and natural living environment. The project is a result of both the requirements of the program and the space available between the preserved trees. The layout of the house is almost organic with a succession of volumes and single-sloped roofs. Inside, the different spaces offer views of the surrounding nature, which are framed vertically to capture the treetops and the sky. The relationship between inside and outside is important, with the landscape designed to provide privacy from the neighboring properties while maintaining a natural atmosphere. The topography of the dune is used to slightly recess the house compared to the road, with the exception of the garage. Thus, closing the house street side and opening it onto the garden.

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One of the volumes is completely detached: it serves as an independent studio intended for seasonal rental or for receiving relatives. The studio is designed to prioritize privacy, with a vertical layout and a micro-garden surrounding. Inside, a double-height space connects the living area on the ground floor with the bedroom above. The bedroom can be opened or closed using large wooden panels on pivots. A suspended staircase made of wood and metal links the two levels, with the metal rods extending to form the bedroom’s railing.

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Wood is extensively used in the project. The structure is predominantly constructed using timber-framed walls and a traditional timber frame, with only the foundations and ground floor being made of concrete. The whole structure is cladded in black-saturated Douglas so that it blends in with the pine bark and appears in different shades of black under the shade of the foliage. Local Landes pine paneling is used to cover the walls and ceiling of the studio, while oak is used for certain walls in the house to emphasize the different volumes. As the clients were very minimalist, they wanted very little furniture and for everything to be integrated. All the built-in furniture was custom-designed and made from pine and oak with an oiled finish.

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The landscape was designed to complement the construction and maintain the existing undergrowth atmosphere. Trees were preserved, and new plantings were strategically positioned to obscure the view of surrounding neighbours. The studio was designed to function independently, and a micro-landscape was created in front of the large bay. The terrace, which seamlessly blends with the interior floor, is bordered by sloped planting that ranges in size from small to large.

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