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  • Writer's pictureCarsten Sprotte

Light House Orientations

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

The Light House is not a single model or blueprint; it is a concept that incorporates many possible models and variations. While integrating best practices in ecological architecture, it would also offer a carefully contemplated aesthetic, both refined and minimal, inspired by Scandinavian and Japanese design. I imagined it as a finished product with built-in furnishings and a handful of crafted objects of art and decor, representing an art de vivre that promises you greater joy through fewer things.

My original design, in collaboration with architect Rémi Phligersdorffer, was a glass and wood house raised on stilts (see below). We had imagined several finishings (dark wood, stucco) in order to adapt to the local environment.

As much as this design met a good many of the functional requirements, it somehow fell short of my ecological and aesthetic aspirations that called for something more organic...almost as if it were a part of nature.

I also concluded that too much glass would be 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. In France, there is also the formidable obstacle of getting any construction project approved that does not meet a host of rigid specifications and conform to local conventions.

Still, the original design does give expression to a good number of desirable features, in particular the extension of living space to the outdoors, the use of stilts to rest lightly upon the land, and the creation of spaces within the house with different light ambiances. It offers a remarkable feeling of space for a very small (40m2) house.

It is also a detailed design concept, and as such a useful reference point for making improvements. To see the detailed design, you can refer to the original Light House website here.

In present search for inspiration, there seem to be two themes emerging. 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.

In either case, the inspiration is biophilic and the aim is to source local materials, opposing the prevailing pre-fab economy of scale rationale. The "lightest" house is not the cheapest house.

Another key aspect is the architectural form. Many civilizations understood how geometry is present in the very fabric of existence.

The box shape has long been the standard for functionality, but the choice of form is not just a matter of functionality. Breaking with the box requires good reasons. What influence does the geometry of form and space have on our wellbeing? How does it relate to the natural and cultural specificities of the site?

These remain open questions, and CANTOBRIA will be a land of experimentation within a framework of local constraints.

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