Carantec, Brittany, France
Odile Decq has unveiled her latest residence in Carantec, Brittany for a client with a degenerative eye condition that was gradually robbing him of his sight.
At his request, “the light had to be perfect, homogeneous and without glare,” the architect explains.
Decq’s Maison de Verre echoes Pierre Chareau’s famed 1928 dwelling for Dr. Jean Dalsace that became the archetype for proto-industrial domestic modernism.
This modern iteration is a structure that’s made entirely of glass: “a box of natural light.”
Located in a suburban neighborhood at the entrance to the town of Carantec, the glass house is an unusual object, but its implementation takes into account the regulatory setbacks in relation to the separating limits while providing a service area and additional parking nearby.
The complete translucency of the walls, facades and roof, creates a singular phenomenon inside: a homogeneous and identical light at all points, an impression of cocoon, which isolates it from the rest of the world.
Decq has ensured the site is concealed and private, with new hedges and fruit trees added to the plot to increase the house’s sense of dramatic isolation.
The unusual façade was designed to create a light but not uncomfortably glaring interior space, one that the architect describes as a “cocoon… isolated from the rest of the world.”
White and black the house is an opalescent parallelepiped, tilted.
It is perforated by two longitudinal volumes of black glass in which are installed the utilitarian functions of the house (bathrooms, storage, kitchen, etc.).
One enters the house through a sheltered patio that protects from the wind and from view, and one can still see the sky: it is a transitional space between exterior and interior.
From there, we access a double-height living space that hosts a living room, an open kitchen, and a dining room.
Two bedrooms—one of which is double height—complete the first floor.
On the first floor, accessible by a staircase made entirely of glass, there is a large bedroom and a bathroom.
Decq worked with a specialist glazing supplier, Okalux, to make walls from insulated panels of translucent glazing, fixed into a hidden structural steel grid.
This glass material is perfectly insulating and offers many advantages: The textile panels included in its cavity allow shadowless lighting, with daylight penetrating deeply into the spaces.
The panels sandwich a thin sheet of insulating textile between the panes, ensuring the light that filters through is diffuse and even, without casting strong shadows.
The result is a comfortable and homogeneous light atmosphere that offers the greatest comfort in the apprehension of interior spaces.
These panels that give the house a milky white and translucent appearance also ensure perfect solar protection and a limitation against glare, their thermal insulation is excellent, thus helping to qualify the operation as high environmental quality.
Natural light is maximized while ensuring privacy.
Only a few low transparent windows allow a close view of the garden.
A handful of conventional windows are set into the walls to give garden views from the main double-height living space, which includes an open-plan kitchen, a sitting and dining area, along with a glass tread staircase that leads up to the main bedroom (two more bedrooms are located on the ground floor).
The interior lighting has been designed to take up the homogeneity of natural daylighting.
The approach was to think about the design of the lighting from an internal point of view, taking into account the life within the house and trying to make the space pleasant and to live in and practical.
When night falls, the house lights up like a lantern, emitting a soft and diffuse light.
From the garden, the house appears like a glowing lantern at night, defiantly different but also far more private than its earlier namesake.
Particular care was taken in the landscaping of the site, in harmony with the plant species found on site: the existing hedges were completed; the parking lots at the entrance were hidden by hedges; fruit trees were planted.
Project: Maison de Verre
Architects: Studio Odile Decq
Lead Architect: Odile Decq
Photographers: Philippe Ruault