Tiny, towards infinity.
The Light House is a finely-crafted micro-home, designed for maximal use of light and minimal impact on its environment. Why so small? Because leaving more space for nature is the most ecological of all building principles. And also, because the luxury of less is an art worth learning.
The photos shown in the above gallery are inspirations illustrating one or several aspects of a Light House.
A Light House in the works
The Light House is not a single model or blueprint, but an umbrella concept under which several models and variations can be proposed. In my search for inspiration, there seem to be two themes emerging. The one is a tree-like house, built primarily from wood and raised off the ground. The other is a grounded house, built into the earth or emerging directly from it, either with stone, clay, straw or a natural composite.
Another key aspect is the form of the structure. If not a box (the current pre-fab standard), then what other shape and why? What influence does the geometry of form and space have on our wellbeing?
These choices must always be made in relation to the natural and cultural specificities of the site.
A starting Point
My original design, in collaboration with architect Rémi Phligersdorfer, was a glass and wood house raised on stilts. We had imagined several finishings (dark wood, stucco) in order to adapt to the local environment.
After several months of observing the design simulation and discussing it with others, I realized that it did not quite match my ecological and aesthetic aspirations. In a nutshell, its design was too purely functional (in the modernist tradition of Le Corbusier). It was like a foreign vessel posed on the land for observation purposes. I wanted something more organic...an outgrowth of the earth itself. I wanted a form that would emancipate its inhabitants from "the box".
I also concluded that too much glass is contrary to principles of energy conservation and that we humans are creatures with a psychological need to retreat into a space that feels private and protected.
Still, the original design does give expression to a good number of desirable features, in particular the extension of living space to the outdoors, and the use of stilts to rest lightly upon the land. It is also a detailed design concept, and as such a useful reference point for making improvements.
"A house of six distinct spaces, each with its own ambiance of light."
Enter the Light House through a semi-enclosed foyer, like a buffer between the open exterior and the enclosed interior. The initial ambiance is that of a small interior courtyard, set between an outside wall and the pivoting glass doors leading to the living room.
From here, you enter the fully enclosed interior, with a vista through the living room onto the long terrace that stretches out before your eyes like a bridge. On the left side is a wall of glass, making the room seem semi-transparent within the surrounding landscape. On the right side, a fully-closed wall supports all of the kitchen equipment, cabinets, and shelves.
A minimal Japanese-style staircase leads up to the upper floor. You walk up the staircase in the direction of the light pouring in from a large skylight. Reaching the staircase landing, pivoting to the left, you access three separate spaces. Straight ahead, the fully-enclosed private bedroom. With its narrow slit windows, it offers a coziness in contrast to the transparent lower-level. A bathroom in the same intimate style provides a walk-in shower or bathtub (depending on the option selected) and a WC. Finally, a small study area offers a desk with shelves. A second sleeping space is suspended above the study and part of the stairwell. Its happy sleepers, with heads near the skylight, can scan the stars before closing their eyes at night.
Beneath the house, there is additional space the use of which will depend on the slope of the terrain. It can be a shady spot to relax on a hot summer day, maybe with a hammock strung from side to side. It may also serve as a parking spot to recharge your electric vehicle. Or how about a sauna, and a place to store wood?
"The terrace extends the living room like a bridge toward the horizon."
Interior floor space : 40m2
Exterior terrace space : 30m2
Combined living / dining / kitchen area
1 bathroom (bathtub or shower options)
1 study space convertible to extra sleeping space
European-sourced renewable timber
Steel support beams
Natural lime plaster for light-colored model
Dark wood cladding for dark model
Furnishings & Amenities:
Washing machine (optional)
Built-in cabinets, closets, and shelves
Shared facilities :
Wine and food preserve cellar
Electric docking station
Auxiliary dry toilets (outhouse)