Organic and Passive Solar in Brittany

French architect Patrice Bideau adheres to the principles of organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and David Pearson.  He recently designed and built a passive solar home in a town in Brittany in an area made up of medieval townhouses overlooking the busy and historic port of Saint Goustan, where Benjamin Franklin landed in 1776. A+A interviewed him via email:

What’s the history of this site?

In the port of Saint Goustan in Auray, this is the bottom area the city and it’s protected because of the ruins of the castle of Auray, and half-timbered houses. The property is on the heights but not far from the port.

What is the intent of the design here?

It is an almost passive bioclimatic house – a wooden house with high thermal inertia.

Where does it draw its inspiration?

From architect David Pearson’s proposed list of rules toward organic architecture, known as the “Gaia Charter” for organic architecture and design.  I also appreciate the work of the Belgian and Hungarian schools, and in particular Imre Makovecz

What were the challenges involved?

The search for energy efficiency with minimum heat input, good air-tightness with a vapor barrier, a sunscreen with wooden sliding shutters, and a clear path to an ecological insulation in cellulose and mud brick behind the stove.

How were the principles of Feng Shui applied?

Through the entrance opening of the house, the ground floor and the first floor, as well as views  augmented by mirrors.  I was looking for warm and harmonious volumes by the house.

Materials used?  How and why?

A priority was thermal inertia for mass effect!  Bulkheads with tiles that plaster walls to the north and sheer concrete blocks covered with traditional plaster.  On the ground: “Land of Burgundy” mud brick, cellulose wadding, wood frame structure and cladding, and lime paint.  Why?  I seek to use a little industrial material and beuacoup green at the same time, for a more natural and healthy home.

How was passive solar used?

Solar gain for the maximun comfort in winter, but being careful about overheating, for summer comfort.

What influence did Frank Lloyd Wright have on the project?

A vision of fluid spaces. Construction according to the place, and respecting nature.  His work on the forms in architecture seeking warm places, and of course, organic architecture.

For more information, go here.

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