La Héronnière was designed according to an approach related to up-cycling (which consists of reclaiming waste into an object of value by the artist’s poetic intervention). This philosophy derives its origins, on the one hand, from the anti- establishment “attitudes” of Arte Povera, through Pop Art to the recent kitsch art of Jeff Koons, recovering old conceptual references “recycled” into a new project vision, and on the other hand, by developing the project based on technical aspects related to recycling and renewable energy.
Four programmatic components define the framework of this project: Occupation, Supply, Re-use and Distinction, which obviously do not come from the “program” of the future occupants as such, but arise from the conceptual aspects of the project. This is a recurring approach in the architect’s work, in which the questioning of form and place precedes the programmatic issues.
The program was common: a young family with two children wanted to build a house representing their values, their desire to occupy a natural setting harmoniously and “symbiotically”, with the site perceived as “the host”.
For La Héronnière, Alain Carle Architecte (ACA) collaborated closely with the future occupants to design the spaces based on old or recovered construction objects, etc. This approach, in which the object appears at the same time as the project is designed, invites research outside the professional context.
To recycle the wood doors of a former garage, a removable fence was set up, separating the main living area from the ground floor, heated mainly with a slow-burning fireplace.
This allows better preservation of heat on the ground floor during cold winter evenings, preventing heat from rising to the upper floor through the stairwell on the ground floor.
Environmental requirements were non-negotiable: no magnetic field in the inhabited space, no wireless communication protocol, energy self-sufficiency, materials free of volatile organic compounds, recovery of project residues, electric car, etc.
Faced with all these good intentions and technical requirements, characteristic of the values of Generation Y, ACA introduced just one more, which seemed to take precedence over these new media-promoter values: the value of the place, the existential quality related to the environment.
In contrast to the idea of performance quality, they promoted the conceptual and perceptual value of the architectural project, as a real counterpoint to the current concept of sustainable development.
The land presented a steep slope, a sort of diagonal plane, not conducive to residential appropriation. In response to the spatial quality generated by this diagonal, ACA installed a horizontal plane in the landscape, generated from three mysteriously identical geodesic points, located at the top of three boulders present on the site.
During the summer, the site’s residual slope, facing due south, becomes the growing place that offers ideal drainage qualities. This “market garden” vocation of the residence therefore offers a self-sufficient, active living model, far from the lazy afternoons of the Baby Boomer generation.