This project is a small off-grid retreat on a rural site in Bordeaux, France. A steel exoskeleton supports a polycarbonate roof over a 120 sq. ft. wood framed interior box. Window locations are located to emphasize foreground and background views and the butterfly roof funnels rain water to a cistern that provides habitat for the namesake native tree frog.
What does it mean to account for the entire lifecycle of a building? In my design practice, this means assigning an intentional lifespan to different parts of the building. In a studio I have just designed for a client’s family property in Bordeaux, France, the foundation of the building will be there longer than the nearby Roman road markers. Rendered as topography, the foundation is designed to be beautiful and useful regardless of whether the rest of the building still stands. A steel frame that is bolted together on site will support the enclosure and the studio will be enclosed with cedar slat panels that fit into the frame with nearly no fasteners. In time, these more ephemeral parts of the building will come apart into neat piles of cedar and steel, ready for their next lives.
In the meantime, I intend for the lightweight structure to appear to shift a bit on its moorings in response to time and the elements. In the way that it shapes the relationship between the owner and his country property, I am intend for the studio to draw attention to the short term of his stewardship and to the long term of the place. The way that I think about my design practice—FLOAT architectural research and design—is also meant to reflect this astatic permanence as in the way that a well-moored boat swings wide on its anchor line.