Antoine Cosson & Barbara Sawczak

ACBS Architects – (France)


School conversion into housing units

Abstract:Shortly after graduating from the school of architecture , we started our own practice with first offers coming from small municipalities in a rural area. With very few exceptions, the present constructions consist of either vernacular architecture or standardized dwellings, curiously, in the typical suburban housing estate style. A few postmodern public facility buildings complete this architectural landscape.

At the beginning of our work there, we proposed what could perhaps be described as a miniature version of a design from the time of our studies. We soon felt a gap between our contemporary education and the more traditional expectations of our clients and local partners.

After a period of negotiating back and forth, we developed a design process that can better accommodate the demands of the local community. We learned that the local context with all its aspects should always be the starting point of our architectural proposals.

We developed a style that could be referred to as critical regionalism. It allows us to propose innovative and contemporary architectural quality conscious of the local environment and close to the cultural, geographical and economic conditions, crucial to our clients.

Applying this design process to our project situated in the hamlet of Monneaux allowed us to introduce contemporary materials with custom- designed details and create airy and lightened-up communal spaces. We were able to successfully integrate contemporary elements into the existing structure and the more traditionally arranged apartment units. The resulting ensemble is in harmony with the environment, while, at the same time, respecting budgetary restrictions.

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