Architects: Lacaton & Vassal     Photography: Hisao Suzuki and Philippe Ruault     Construction Period:  1996-1998     Location:  Cap Ferret, France

Exposed to the southeast and long unoccupied, the terrain is one of the last remaining non-built plots on the immediate shoreline of Arcachon Bay. A stretch of sand 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 to build right on the ground ?

To avoid the felling 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 in order to profit from the view. To exclude the heavy earthworks which are particularly degrading for a ground surface of 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 facade on the Bay side 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.

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Like the side facades, the underside consists of aluminium 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, their growth and their maintenance in a good state of health. Running along the edge of the beach, the traditional wooden retaining wall has been remade.

Text provided by the architect.