When I was contacted by the owners to work on the house they would be moving into after living for forty years in my childhood village, I felt that they were giving me the opportunity to continue a life path with them and to accompany them in this transition.
The couple lived in a house located at the top of the road where I used to play as a child. A small magical house with green shutters that is absolutely inseparable from the memory that we can have of these two people. The way they lived in this house overlooking the street, the way they greeted passers-by, the dog that was always watching the threshold of their door, the way they decorated it, the smell of cigarettes that one could smell when entering it, all these memories told me that, if I was going to be in charge of their new home, this house would have to be special and would have to leave a mark on the minds of their friends and acquaintances.
Boudry is a village in the process of becoming a small town. Its historic center has beautiful old buildings, the growth of the town has led entrepreneurs to build in a hurry: the new buildings have on the one hand largely densified the town but also made the charm of the old stones along the main axes disappear.
The building intended for conversion was a stable, a farmhouse organized around three buildings placed in a U-shape. It has been occupied since time by many types of activities. Garage, warehouse, distillery or “carnotzet”. Surprisingly close to a river, the building has been able to escape the laws concerning construction near rivers and enjoys its prescription.
The transformation project concerns a piece of the main building, it is a question of finding the best way to set up an accommodation on a single floor in order to facilitate the access to the things. The building is poorly insulated, the heating system needs to be replaced, the small openings that open onto a large garden let in too little light. The decision is taken to knock down one of the large load-bearing walls in order to double the available floor space, the mass of the upper wall will be taken up by a beam supported by a metal post. The thermal envelope is completely redone and new openings allow the house to be oriented towards the garden.
Inside, the spatial logic and subdivisions are realized with walls made of bleached birch panels. A sculptural and minimalist pivot wall becomes the main actor of this project. It allows the variation of the spatiality, the luminosity and the intimacy of the spaces. It allows the creation of an additional room with its own entrance, but also to produce a fluid space, without separations.
It is through a collaborative process with the clients that the color palette and material choices are established. In contrast to the wooden walls, the peripheral walls are covered with a rough plaster: they mark the difference between the primary and secondary envelopes of the house. Colored elements are carefully designed and positioned as spatial sculptures. They allow to play with the brightnesses, the transparencies, the textures and become the secondary actors of the habitat.