The French architect, Odile Decq, is a woman known for thinking outside the box. For her latest project, Maisons de Verre à Carantec, she’s thrown the housebuilding rule book out of the window. Rather than head down the time-honoured route of bricks and mortar, Odile and her colleagues have made a livable two-storey house entirely in glass.
Odile Decq is no stranger to us, as she is an extraordinary architect who never ceases to surprise us with her creativity. Her latest creation is Maisons de Verre à Carantec, a quite unique house designed for a client suffering from a progressive and irreversible loss of sight that would lead him to see only vague shapes.
The client wanted a home where the light had to be perfect, homogeneous and without glare, and obviously, this would require a considerable amount of thought and planning.
The solution was to construct a house made entirely from glass, essentially a box of natural light. For the design team to achieve this, the house needed complete translucency of the walls, facades and roof, allowing homogeneous and identical light at all points. The finished project would give the impression of a cocoon, a place separate from the rest of the world.
The black and white house is a tilted, opalescent parallelepiped shape. Inside it is perforated by two longitudinal volumes of black glass, which define the more practical areas of the house, the bathrooms, storage areas and kitchen.
You enter Maisons de Verre à Carantec via a sheltered patio. It is a transitional space between the exterior and the interior, which protects from adverse weather, offers privacy, and allows those entering to see the sky. From there, we access a double-height living space that hosts a living room, an open kitchen and a dining room.
Completing the ground floor accommodation are two bedrooms, one of which is a double-height room. As you would expect, the staircase leading up to the first floor is made entirely of glass, where there is a large (main) bedroom and a bathroom.
The materials used in its construction
Maisons de Verre à Carantec’s walls are constructed of double panels of light-diffusing insulating “double glazing” (OKALUX K), between which the metal (now invisible) structural grid passes. The glass panels give the house a milky white and translucent appearance, providing solar protection and limiting all unwanted glare.
The designers picked these particular panels for Maisons de Verre à Carantec based on their excellent thermal insulation properties and textile cavities that allow shadowless lighting, letting natural light penetrate deep into the spaces. The result is a comfortable area where the natural light is maximised whilst remaining private.
The design team paid particular care to the artificial lighting in Maisons de Verre à Carantec. The designer’s approach was to think about the lighting design from an internal point of view, considering the life within the house and trying to make the space pleasant to live in whilst being practical.
The principle chosen was to fix a lighting system in the roof structure along with a series of peripheral spotlights aligned along the façade. The overall design allows the house to light up like a lantern when night falls, emitting a soft and diffused light into its surroundings.
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