Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Design | Dwell: Greener Pasture

Like a little chapel on the prairie, architect Jean-Baptiste Barache’s simply elegant retreat in the tiny Normandy town of Auvillier is a modern play on centuries-old forms and technology.

Damp Upper Normandy, a workingman’s land of ragged rains and rapeseed fields, is not the first place that comes to mind for an exercise in off-the-grid living. This isn’t the Normandy of well-heeled Parisian weekenders and American cineasts who flock to nearby seaside resorts, with their saltwater spas, annual film festival, and champagne brunches. It’s a farming land dotted by modest prefab commuter clusters, rusty grain silos, and cows of the white, tawny, and Rorschach varieties. The climate is intemperate; winters are long, summers fickle. But it is exactly what Jean-Baptiste Barache was looking for to undertake this experiment: to elaborate on an architecture seeking to integrate us with, not isolate us from, the elements.

“Constraints nourish a project,” he says. And if that’s the case, it’s been a feast for the architect, whose home forgoes electricity altogether. Read more at Dwell.

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