With just a few thoughtful gestures, Atelier Raum gave this summer home in Sarzeau the ability to strike an assortment of distinctive poses against its wooded seaside backdrop.
On Brittany’s coast, where wine country extends past Nantes and Rennes into the chilly waters of the Atlantic, the Gulf of Morbihan shelters a smattering of ancient villages, dotted with neolithic menhirs, which have offered a popular retreat from city life since the 1300s. In the town of Sarzeau, at the end of a winding laneway that leads up a hill and past rows of traditional cottages, you’ll find something distinctly contemporary set against a primeval forest: the angular, black form of a summer home designed by Nantes-based Atelier Raum architects.
The summer home is set partway into the sloping site, so that it rises ramp-like from south to north. Seen from the south, the slanted roof almost disappears into the scenery thanks to a green roof entirely covered with grass. From the opposite end, the timber-framed structure appears to rise into an orthogonal tower, showing its facade of vertical wooden slats painted black. But the building is not strictly rectangular; a 30-degree turn halfway along the ramp creates a sheltered area on the home’s western side, where a large wooden terrace spreads out over the lawn.
Despite its diminutive size – less than 70 square metres spread across two storeys – the structure manages to pack five separate sleeping quarters into its all-white interior. On the ground floor, two small chambers are joined by a pair of enclosed plywood boxes with beds inside, which can be wheeled through massive sliding glass doors onto the terrace or into the walled courtyard, freeing up the open-concept living room which occupies much of the ground floor. A simple entrance, kitchen, bathroom and staircase take up the remainder of the ground floor space.
Up the staircase, a generous master bedroom occupies the entire second floor. Its singular focal point is an enormous window that almost takes up an entire wall; from this second-storey perch, the bedroom offers an expansive view to the north, over the neighbouring cottages to the tidal plains of the bay beyond.