The owners of a small house in the suburbs Alfortville South-East of Paris, Philippe and Marie, assigned the architects Nicola Spinetto and Stéphane RAZA to design and build an extension to the rear of their home.
The existing pavilion is modest, iconic, four walls and a double sloped roof located in the front of narrow but lengthy plot. At the rear of the house a small garden with a small vegetable garden at the back, and a shed for storing tools.
A suburban pavilion of 30’s, with its simple façade made out of irregular plaster cement and its little porch surmounted by an iron canopy and reinforced glass. Works had been going on for years. On the ground floor are the entrance, the kitchen, a dining and the living room, upstairs two bedrooms and an attic bathroom. The living spaces are relatively small and with similar surfaces. A total of 80m2 to be renovated progressively in function of the opportunities at hand.
The plot land is staggered from the street. The living rooms are separated from the garden, located two meters below.
The project redesigns the layout of the ground floor and aims at creating a strong link between home and garden. It tries to invent a new kind of space, at the same time "inside" and "outside." It offers a unique situation, different from the existing one. To achieve this, the architects designed a wooden structure attached to the facade containing an aluminium veranda (an extension of the living room), a sheltered terrace and an outside staircase, linking the ground floor level to the garden. Construction is both lightweight and transparent, reminding us more of a garden cottage or a leisure space than a conventional solid construction. The owners both work in the performing arts, and are used to ephemeral structures and temporary facilities. The project required a building permit.
The project The extension has the shape of a small timber construction: an irregular and perforated volume, where the facades and the roof are treated uniformly to form a continuous envelope. The construction has the shape of a ‘perception box’: it opens up towards the nicest views (on the right side, a metal mesh shows a large tree) and closes to protect from the most unpleasant view (on the left side to hide the contiguous parking lot).
Infill panels made of Douglas timber slats, metal mesh and stainless steel act like filters that leverage the intensity of the light and protect the sight. Some panels, hinged and equipped with cylinders, can open like large flaps generating views over the garden. They also allow the project to avoid a fixed geometry and to flexibly adapt to the seasonal light, the daytime and the user’s own desire. Assemblies and details are both accurate and simple, reflecting both the rationality of the construction and the rigorous drawings. Neither too complex nor too sophisticated: the designers and the construction company shared for this project the idea of a sort of roughness of materials and details.
Construction and sustainable materials The wood is not treated. Douglas timber is used for the main frame and infill panels and cladding and used for the floor of the terrace are naturally class III. The insulation of the floor and walls are made from natural rockwool. The porch is made of thermo-lacquered aluminium profiles with profiles increasing insulation and double-glazed argon filled glass. The floor of the porch was made with oak flooring, ensuring continuity between the renovated part and the existing living room. The "dry" construction site favours assemblies instead of the use of glues.