Design Office: Pottgiesser ArchitecturesPossibles
Design Team: Christian Pottgiesser, Pascale Thomas Pottgiesser
Completion date: project 2004-2007, implementation 2007-2011
Area: 870 square meters (house), 4850 square meters (garden)
Engineer: Joël Betito
General contractor: Les Constructeurs de Suresnes
Carpenter: Reinhardt S.A.
Iron work: Serrurerie Prestige Glazing, Metal facade
Wood, glazing: Chaput S.A.
Landscape trade: Bruns Pflanzen
Landscape implementation: La Générale des Aménagements
Floor, walls, sanitary installations: Les Constructeurs de Suresnes
Lighting: CPAP Design
Photographer: George Dupin
A successful architectural firm should be able to acclimatize to all design situations and produce notable, memorable and functional structures. Such is the design of the Maison L, a five three-storey towered residential extension to the orangery of an eighteenth century castle in Yvelines, France, by architect Christian Pottgiesser and artist Pascale Thomas Pottgiesser. The Maison L comprise of five towers connected by a concrete canopy, forming roof terraces among them and shared living areas for the family underneath. The towers are clad in white cement and framed by pine boards, while a dry stone wall wraps around the ground floor.
The house for a family of six is situated on a 5,000 square meter site; on a small hill less than half an hour’s drive west from Paris (France) city center. The flat ground to some extent tilts to the north, just before the general topography drops abruptly to the Seine River. The owners planned for the orangery to be enlarged by placing the private residential areas into an extension, while the communal areas such as the reception, office and service areas would remain in the existing building. The spacious grounds had to be left untouched as far as possible, thus, only the north-western part near the boundary had to be the guideline for the main positioning for any new construction, which eventually led to an ''L''-shaped general plan.
''L''-shaped general plan © Pottgiesser ArchitecturesPossibles
With building construction restricted to eight meters, and local specific site requirements that allow only one single building with a gabled or hipped roof, the architects were called to optimize the use of total surface area. The temporary internals in the existing building were disassembled thus allowing for the seven-meter high ceilings to become apparent once again and project the full volume of the original orangery. With the abovementioned restrictions, only an annexed type of building was achievable for construction. Therefore, Christian Pottgiesser and his team faced acute limitations in building Maison L. Three of the perimeters were surrounded by historical monuments, the principal requested that the gabled roofs be preserved, for the conservation of a sewage network that divides the garden and that the family members each have their personal space.
Lacking any particular geometry, the approximately 50 meter long ground floor of the extension opens up from the north-western side of the orangery. Due to the strict height eight meters limitations, the ground floor was constructed two meters below point 0 – the ground level. The entire side of the building towards the boundary of the plot is covered with soil, except for the addition of the cour-anglaise at intervals, which allows for abundant natural lighting to pass through, ensuring for natural ventilation and cooling systems. Concrete masonry blocks help maintain temperatures throughout the house during the changing seasons. On the opposite side – the south eastern facade of the house - a complex topography materializes between the house and the landscape.
The Maison L’s private quarters are now shared between the six residents – the four children and the parents. The open plan residence has been developed in such a way that the ground floor develops into private zones; the design lacks doors, thus allowing for communication and mingling with the other family members. The five three-storied tower-like volumes were realized through the roof garden. Greenery has been planted on the concrete roof suggesting an indoor – outdoor aspect to the building. The window glazing around each three-storey tower provides for natural lighting and a fascinating sequence of viewpoints.
Each private tower hosts a dressing room and storage space, the mezzanine and a bathroom on the ground floor while the second floor hosts a bedroom. The somewhat larger tower for the parents has a rooftop garden from where one has a clear view to “La Défense”, Paris’ business district with its sky scrapers. The Maison L’s interior has a contemporary minimalist tone with concrete walls, open spaces, built-in furniture and minimal designer furnishings. The walls have a combination of cutting edges and soft curves entwined with the existing building; the building, apart from being an addition and a renovation space, has many other sustainable, eco-friendly elements.
Concluding, the Maison L is an innovative sustainable home with a topography-driven architectural design. Its architectural design is very stimulating as we can observe the preserved elements which are retrofitted into a new built environment. Great care was taken by the designers not to impose on the landscape, while the various structures have been connected by a curving stone wall. Pottgiesser Architecture Possibles has given their best efforts to preserve the past ‘heritage’ while designing modern, dreamlike structures.
About Pottgiesser ArchitecturesPossibles
The architecture firm of architect Christian Pottgiesser and artist Pascale Thomas Pottgiesser, known as Pottgiesser ArchitecturesPossibles, based in France, has been successful in creating numerous projects that are both appealing and profound in design details including sustainability and environmentally awareness while leaving the landscapes un-interrupted. Over the years, Pottgiesser ArchitecturesPossibles has received many awards for their architectural designs; some of these awards include the Contract World Award in 2008 and the AIT Best of Office Architecture Award in that same year.