NZI architectes uses wood and straw to fabricate social housing in france

NZI architectes uses wood and straw to fabricate social housing in france

given a brief to design 13 individual social houses for a site in nogent-le-rotrou, france, NZI architectes took the opportunity to explore innovative and ecological construction techniques. with this in mind, the resulting project uses wood and straw – providing the possibility to completely prefabricate large areas of walls in the factory. utilizing these methods and materials allowed for reduction in costs and time spent on-site, all the while limiting the use of unsustainable resources.

images © juan sepulveda grazioli



the program of the site is split into three blocks – a, b and c – each comprising of 4, 5 and 4 houses respectively. connected by a pedestrian access path, the middle set of buildings is designed by NZI to be stepped back slightly, breaking up the development and giving residents more distance from the street. within the blocks, the houses are also arranged in staggered rows, in order to avoid sudden repetition and a severe alignment.



the houses are formed in a typical pitched roof profile, evoking the symbolic image of ‘home’. sloped to varying gradients, a dynamic rhythm is created by the diversity in style. clad in timber, the potential monotony of the 13 houses is also broken up thanks to the variation in finishes. from natural, charred to white-stained wood, the combination makes for an interesting visual display and helps to form a relationship between the urban and natural environment.



straw has long been used as a natural insulation material. with its durability and power efficiency, NZI chose to pack straw in-between the timber frame, making for a very lightweight structure. the low weight allowed the large areas to be safely prefabricated and then easily handled on site without the use of heavy duty cranes. overall, with the use of more sustainable materials, the project proves the benefits of forming social housing with innovative techniques and quality design.



project info:


project type: social housing

location: nogent-le-rotrou, france

architect: NZI architectes

photography: juan sepulveda grazioli


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynne myers | designboom

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
501,537 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample