when arba was commissioned to design this timber dwelling in thomery, france, the architects were confronted with a site divided in two parts by stone walls. rather than tear down the walls, the paris-based architecture studio decided to respect them and build a new building around them, giving birth to the name of this project – ‘the house between the walls’. 

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

images courtesy of arba

 

 

‘when we arrived on this land, we found a plot cut in two parts by a stone vine wall. much of the poetics of the place came from this wall, from the stonework, because of its presence in this garden… the house is therefore simply an intervention on this wall.’ arba

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

 

 

despite retaining the existing wall, the architects have inserted one single bay opening on the south-facing elevation. the house is placed immediately behind this opening and is positioned in such a way that three distinct gardens are created within the site. one to the east for morning light, one to the south for midday, and one to the west for evening light at the end of the day. a narrow external passageway connects these three outdoor spaces, promoting fluidity throughout the house. 

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

 

 

to the east and west, the gables – each fitted with three wall bars – are vertical extensions of the adjacent gardens. the house, coated with black pine tar under an imposing roof that covers the wall, brings its own poetics to the place. the atrium of the house is conceived as a habitable, soft, and comfortable hollow behind the opening created in the rough and imperfect wall.

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

 

 

the new poetry of the place includes a bit of mystery that comes from the fact that the house is hidden – only the black roof and the belly of the atrium can be seen. this same mystery emanates from the coexistence of the new and the old – of what has always been present and what has just been built.

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

arba builds a timber house between two old stone walls in rural france

 

 

 

project info:

 

project name: the house between the walls (la maison entre les murs)

location: thomery, seine-et-marne, france

architect: arba

surface area: 1,162.50 ft2 (108 m2)