Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal, the French architect couple winner of the Pritzker 2021 Prize, designed the Cap Ferret house in 1998 on an undeveloped plot in Arcachon Bay to minimize disruption to the natural environment. Rather than taking down any of the 46 trees on the site, the architects nurtured the native vegetation, elevating the home and building around the trunks, allowing occupants to live among the plants.
Cap Ferret House Technical Information
- Architects1: LACATON & VASSAL | Biography
- Location: Cap Ferret, France
- Topics: Aluminium, Residential
- Area: 180 m2 + 30 m2 Terrace
- Project Year: 1998
- Photographs: © Lacaton & Vassal
The pre-existing has value if you take the time and effort to look at it carefully. In fact, it’s a question of observation, of approaching a place with fresh eyes, attention and precision…to understand the values and the lacks, and to see how we can change the situation while keeping all the values of what is already there.
– Anne Lacaton
House in the Pines Photographs
Text by the Architects
Exposed to the southeast and long unoccupied, the terrain is one of the last remaining non-built plots on Arcachon Bay’s immediate shoreline. A stretch of dune covered with arbutuses, mimosas, and 46 pine trees rises then rapidly descends once more towards the Bay.
How does one preserve the dune and its vegetation when building round and about means to cut down trees and even build right on the ground? To avoid the feeling of pine trees and the clearing of the low vegetation of the arbutuses, whose impact, seen from the Bay, is particularly perceptible. To raise the house above the ground to profit from the view.
To exclude the heavy earthworks, which are particularly degrading for a ground surface of the sand, twelve micro-piles are driven eight to ten meters deep. On top, a metal frame, which creeps up between the trees, has been assembled. The Bayside facade is open and glazed; the three others are more closed and intersected with transparent bays. The height beneath the platform is variable but always sufficient to permit one to pass under it.
We never see the existing as a problem. We look with positive eyes because there is an opportunity of doing more with what we already have.
Like the side facades, the underside consists of aluminum panels, creating an artificial sky which, because the undulations are perpendicular to the Bay, reflects its luminosity.
The pine trees are preserved, including those situated within the four walls of the building itself. These trees traverse the house in special holders adapted to their swaying, growth, and maintenance in a good state of health.
Running along the edge of the beach, the traditional wooden retaining wall has been remade.
House in the Pines – Cap Ferret House Plans
Cap Ferret House Image Gallery
About LACATON & VASSAL
Lacaton & Vassal is a French architecture studio composed by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal and founded in 1987 in Paris. They develop a work focused mainly on the relationship between form, function, and economy. They give special importance to the contemporary way of life, seeking to create comfortable spaces for users through this relationship. They are also characterized by making use of technological innovation and materials such as polycarbonate to achieve the construction of larger spaces. The architect couple is the winner of the Pritzker 2021 prize.
- Principals: Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal
- Design Team: Sylvain Menaud, Laurie Baggett, Emmanuelle Delage, Christophe Hutin, Pierre Yves Portier, David Pradel