Page E1.1 . 29 May 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Heretical Tent

by Robert Such

In the south of France is a house whose tent-like form follows the contours of the land and mimics the curvature of a nearby ancient stone wall. It is an example of "architecture by stealth." Not only does its green fabric covering blend into the natural environment, but the structure is nearly invisible to building officials.

"Maison Barak" is also figuratively green, with a geothermal heat source and a relatively light footprint in its grove of olive trees.

When asked if his latest building is safe to live in, French architect François Roche confirms that it is. It looks vulnerable to burglars, though, if you think of it as just a tent. "Of course the house is protected and secured," says Roche.

He developed the tent image to emphasize the structure's relationship to the environment, not to endanger the client. The seemingly fragile and temporary covering is made of polyurethane fabric panels clipped together with carbon fiber wires. Underneath is a concrete block structure.   >>>

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ArchWeek Image

Maison Barak, designed by R & Sie..., combines the solidity of concrete block and the lightness of a tent.
Photo: François Roche

ArchWeek Image

A tent made of polyurethane panels over a stack of concrete block boxes is nearly invisible to the nearby historic Château Sommières.
Photo: François Roche

 

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