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THE HOUSE

Petit Bayle was designed and built in 2008 by architect Vicky Thornton and is set deep in the countryside of the Tarn et Garonne region of south west France, on a steeply sloping site. It is expressed in two distinct parts: a rubble limestone base below containing two bedrooms, a shower and utility room and above the main living and bedroom spaces enclosed in an inflected timber clad form which responds to the landscape and surrounding views.

Vernacular materials are chosen for their pragmatic aesthetic and are particular to the ‘place’. Rubble stone walls, typical of this part of France, form the base of the house with locally sourced chestnut timber cladding enclosing the upper level. Timber shutters to the upper level close flush with the cladding to create an enclosed box when shut, giving strong vertical shadow lines which compliment the rubble stone below. Sliding galvanised shutters, similar to those used on local farm buildings, are used at the lower level for security and sunshading.
The building adopts a low tech approach to sustainability incorporating solar thermal panels for domestic hot water, rainwater harvesting (two 5000 litres tanks in basement) for flushing toilets and irrigation of the garden and a green roof providing additional thermal mass. Underfloor heating and a wood-burning stove keep the house warm in winter.
The interiors have been created to compliment the external architecture. Materials are chosen to reflect the external appearance with furniture and colour selected to contrast the natural hues of the building fabric.

The view from the saltwater pool stretches out across the valley and the sunset.