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Maison L by Christian Pottgiesser, Architecturespossibles

[MANSER MEDAL 2012] Linking existing buildings, this house is buried beneath a sloping site

On an undulating site of a former château, close to Versaille is a restored orangery whose origins can be traced to the late 18th century. Home to a couple with four children, the architect Christian Pottgiesser was called upon to extend it. The brief required an extension that affected the views from the orangery, and the mature landscape in which it is set, as little as possible. The result is a little bit of San Gimignano in this corner of the Île de France.

The local building code sets an eight metre height limit. Since the orangery itself is seven, the architect has buried two metres of the linking building under the sloping site. The code also calls for a gabled, or hipped, roof but it does allow, in exceptional cases, flat roofs as long as they do not exceed 25 square metres.

Five three-storeyed tower-like structures were designed, one room per floor with the circulation winding up through them to provide dressing/storage, bathroom and bedroom. One tower is exclusively for the children. The parents’ tower is topped with a planted a roof terrace with great views across the garden and the skyscrapers of La Défense district of Paris.

RIBA Award, EU

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