5.1.2011

«Les Ganivelles», Landes, Francia

‘Ganivelles’ son las cercas abiertas hechas de alambre y delgados postes de madera de castaño que se utilizan en el mar para resguardar las dunas de arena del viento y para proteger las frágiles plantas que crecen allí. A lo largo de la costa atlántica, suelen aparecer estos densos alineamientos de postes de madera plantados verticalmente en el suelo. Estos dispositivos suelen ser paralelos a las playas o al mar. Constituyen un vocabulario, una identidad para el lugar que protegen... Desde la carretera, el pasaje que atraviesa el sitio separa e identifica los dos programas manteniendo la coherencia y la continuidad del proyecto: el edificio de la Federación Francesa de Surf y el nuevo restaurante del chef Jean Coussau. Este pasaje es un espacio público que da acceso a la playa y crea un lugar de reunión.

‘Ganivelles’ are the open fences made of wire and thin batons of chestnut wood which are used by the sea to protect sand dunes from the wind, from people, and to enclose the fragile plant life growing there (honeysuckle, clematis, beachgrass…). In their shelter the soil can re-establish and a community of plants take root, each contributing something; there are no ‘weeds’ here! The tough, the ephemeral, the prolific, from hardy to tender, large and small, the pretty and the not so pretty, together, they let life take hold.” Michel Pomarède and Odile Reboul.

As you travel along the Atlantic coast, you often see these dense alignments of elongated wooden posts planted vertically in the ground. These devices are frequently parallel to the beaches or the sea. They constitute a vocabulary, an identity for the place that they protect. The lines of ‘ganivelle’ fence are the props in a fragile dunescape, which act as windbreak and anchor the sand allowing plant life to establish itself; the props that check the deterioration of the landscape. As they mark the landscape, they become the landscape. Here, beach fences on a Cyclopean scale structure a building, and protect enclosed spaces resembling petrified sandcastles, their roofs planted with beach grass. The timbers of the project are made of chestnut, like the beach fences that run through the dunes. This wood, from sustainable sources, is left unfinished and untreated. The timbers’ dimensions and the spacing between them have been calculated to reproduce the visual effect of the dune fencing and to allow a clear view of the sea from the building’s interior. Seen from the beach, with the effect of perspective, the building blends with the landscape. In addition to this visual concern, the timbers enclose the outdoor terraces, provide structural support for the retractable sun-shading and act as a windbreak set into the sand. They create both protecting and protective exterior spaces. The main body of the building, all at ground floor level, is set into the sand to limit the visual impact of a construction on a vista of horizons (the beach, the promenade, the ocean). The walls are body tinted concrete, finished with sand when still wet to give them the texture and colour of the beach.

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From the road, a passage crosses the site separating and identifying the two programmes specified by the client (the building for the French Surfing Federation and the new gastronomic restaurant for local chef Jean Coussau), whilst maintaining the coherence and continuity of the project. This crossing is a public space giving access to the beach and creates a place to meet. The two entrances are also located here, which open directly onto the internal circulation of each building. This circulation runs parallel with the beach along a glazed axis punctuated on one side by a patio for the Surfing Federation and on the other, a glazed roof for the restaurant. This spatial organization allows constant views outside. It also promotes natural daylight, ventilation and emphasizes the closeness of the surrounding landscape inside the building. The presence of the outside inside is accentuated by the use of materials, the fencing and the coloured and sand-finished concrete in the circulation spaces, the latter also contributing to the thermal mass of the building. The project highlights a type of architecture of which the appearance, the materials and the function stem directly from the local vernacular. The atmosphere is calm and bathed in light. The colour palette is natural, informed by the sand, the wood and fabrics of beige and ochre. The general design, to its advantage, has more in common with the natural horizon than a building in the classic sense of the word. It blurs and erases the defined envelope of the project, promoting instead a functional continuity, creating both conceptual and formal relationships with the site. It is a project that merges with its context, ultimately constituting a genuine “landscape-building”

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About Paul-Emmanuel Loiret & Serge Joly
Paul-Emmanuel Loiret and Serge Joly met in 1993 at the Ecole Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris la Seine. Completing their diplomas in 2001 and 2000 respectively, until 2006-7 they worked in French and foreign architectural practices of international renown, notably at Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, Jacques Ferrier and for the Services Economiques des Ambassades de France in various countries in Africa. These years of training were also marked by opportunities for travel around the world. One spent time in Canada, Africa, south and central America, the other criss-crossing Asia, both having travelled throughout Europe. In 2003, having already embarked upon their professional careers, they decided to work together under the name ‘architecture system’. Between 2003-6, in parallel with their work for other architects, they participated in a number of international architecture competitions and undertook small private projects. They were awarded the prestigious nomination by the French Ministry of Culture to the ‘Nouveaux Albums de la Jeune Architecture’ for 2005-6; a prize given to 20 architectural practices aged under 35 in recognition of their work and their potential for the future. Following this award, they founded JOLY&LOIRET. Since then, the office has had between 6 and 8 employees. Work has diversified both in the public and private sector, notably for schools, sporting and cultural public commissions, but also in set design, housing and offices. Paul-Emmanuel Loiret and Serge Joly also teach at various Ecoles Supérieure d’Architecture. A creative approach rooted in environmental context.

Over time, Paul-Emmanuel Loiret and Serge Joly have forged a broad architectural and environmental approach with a sensitivity towards a simple, vernacular architecture, informed by local cultures and contexts. Today their objective is to create an architecture that is environmentally respectful and culturally representative. In the manner of a landscape designer or land artist, the office’s projects are more than simply functional. They are cultural, determined by a sense of place, its history, its form, its materials and its textures with the aim of creating a space to fit the local context. Each project, conceived with respect for the use of energy and resources, reveals and reflects its environs, as if it had risen from nature. Most importantly, the office’s projects aspire to be sensitive, efficient, dynamic, sustainable, appropriate and alive, to be poetic, to touch the people who use them. Far from having a formal ideology, Joly&Loiret strive to build an architecture that is concerned not with its own singular presence, but with the actions and events that it might engender.

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