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Author(s): FACES architectes

Art Centre

Transformation

It seems that everything is there and we must be attentive to identifying the uniqueness of the site and enhancing it.

The discovery of a structure that expresses the obvious uses that inhabited it with a reduced budget gives a pleasure similar to that from reading a speech that clearly explains complex phenomena without jargon.

The beauty of the stables, awnings, and courtyards lies in the ability of these structures to attest to their use, their symbolic function, their construction, understood as the meaning given to the choice and overall arrangement of the elements that make up the whole.

Resources

In this landscape in the Yonne where wooded and cultivated vales alternate, the isolated farm clings to the slope of a hillside. The position of the buildings and the geometry of the paths organise the outdoor spaces through levelling, with low walls defining a succession of terraces open to the landscape.

The built structures form a flared U-shape around a courtyard: the dwelling, granary, and stables. Only the pen walls remain from a pig sty sitting at 90 degrees to the structures. Further down, two barns frame a work area. The farm was built at the end of the 19th century of brick and flint masonry, and renovated by adding the barns.

New values

Invited to work on the project to transform the farm into an artist’s work area and residence, we had to find out how to continue the history of the buildings that compose it, the history of their uses, their form, construction, and economy. We had to continue history by working to reveal a new coherence through the transformations, and make new provisions for future uses. Working with what was already there – the flock of sheep, the fruit trees, the forest, and what will be there – painting, etching, staging, storing, exhibiting, travelling – . The architecture here gave the measurements, the proper positions in the network of relationships between the elements, and the articulations between the buildings and empty spaces: extra height, extensions, and fences.

We chose to work first on the future of the barns and the ruins of the pig sty, to rebuild the unity of the upper and lower courtyards, to bring together the repaired farm buildings and the spaces gained in a continuous, narrowed enclosure, a crystallisation in the woods. The construction method used – wood frame, board siding, pine panels in crossing layers, tile and zinc roof – helped obtain a harmonic tension similar to that of the old buildings made of modules and repetitions.

Function : Transformation of a farmhouse and its outbuildings