Wooden Villa
Personal Places

Wooden Villa

Soulac-sur-Mer, France Nicolas Dahan Architects

practical info

Studio: Nicolas Dahan Architects (Paris, France)
Authors: Nicolas Dahan
Location: Soulac-sur-Mer, France
Program: Housing, single,
State: New construction
Video credits: Director of photography and editor François Valenza

Music by Bay Bear "Hidden Track"
composed by lisa-li-lund and T.K Broderick
Image credits: Vincent Leroux

visual material

general aspects

“A space to live and move within the pine forest”. The wooden villa is a see-through heaven inviting the beauty of its surrounding environment inside. A seamless wonder built with unique expertise of the best wood engineers. The floor and the ceiling mirrors each other’s dimensions, breaking down all notions of hierarchy. The Eyesight glides between pine trees and interior perspectives, feet wander with ease from the warm sand - outside onto the softness the okoume wood flooring - indoors.

“To enter the pine forest is to enter the house ». (The site itself is integrated to the architecture). The house is built where the air flows. The pine and oak trees provide shelter from strong winds. The ocean, though not visible, is so close that the sound of surfers rhythm the day. Nature runs through the bedrooms and the living room. In order to redefine the threshold, we haven’ t created a traditional front entrance. To enter the house, you stride right into the 130m2 living space or into one of the 5 rooms sitting on the 4000m2 pine forest.

The roof is made out of 136 larch caissons, a matching floor with this time 136 okoume wood panels, all in a perfect aligned symmetry … an architectural sandwich.
A scaffolding warehouse had to be installed on-site to shelter the construction, the level of precision required to build the roof did not allow any humidity. The larch has been sanded down to acquire a refined finish usually reserved to furniture. There are no screws and no apparent nails. The use of shadow joints offers a unique sense of fluidity both inside and outside of the house.

If the standard height for sliding glass doors is 2,20m, here they reach beyond 3 meters high. The shadows of the pine forest, projected onto the interior wooden surfaces, accompany the inhabitants with different degrees of intensity all throughout the day.

The house is a member of the family in the Japanese sense, a member that must be taken care of.

about the category

It was a time when we distinguished the activities: Personal Place, Collective Place.
The domestic space wanted to escape the collective to return to sensations, to details, to the informal. Is it a feeling or a future reality?

Our office is now working on two project "categories": the high-content super urban with the My Super Kilometer project which is deployed in the major urban centers of the world and domestic, private, personal spaces: these two categories are formally separated in our office so that they are better and clearly understood, two separate and different websites without links between them (nicolasdahan.fr, monsuperkilometre.com).

In the history of architecture, the domestic, the house, the villa could have been an exercise in the development of the process for the larger scale: we isolated the relevant elements of architecture in order to pass them to the higher scale, to the multiplier process: today our office has separated the “categories” but we are finally not the only ones: it is an era which specializes, which must make the distinction readable in order to simplify the languages. With the Simon Prize, the question of the definition of “Personal Place” can be openly discussed.

Our clients are super urbanites, but their spaces should no longer be, they should open up other horizons, other feelings, create inner sensations, clean and unique, almost exclusive. Our office only works half of the time on those moments which are built from surfaces and no longer from “walls”.

This “Personal Place” “category” has become a surface for us but also for future residents. Surfaces are supports before being read as volumes by the inhabitants: these surfaces must be domesticated, welcomed in a different way with natural and artificial light, day and night : these domestic times escape collective moments in order to be better understood and lived. Choosing this category was to clarify this distinction within our architectural activity.