Poised on the southern tip of the French island of Corsica – birthplace of Napoléon – the location for this house is spectacular – a dramatic, south-facing site high above a rocky bay that commands long views out to sea. The client is an imaginative patron and the brief was ambitious, comprising generous living and dining spaces, together with seven bedrooms, a study and guest and staff accommodation. The challenges of brief and site were compounded by strict local planning regulations, which stipulated that the house should be built entirely of timber, in keeping with its neighbours.

Approached from the landward side, the house offers a discreet presence. It is dug into the contours of the site and sheltered by a monopitch roof, which spreads out like a protective bird’s wing. Organised on a single level, the house is wedge-shaped in both plan and section. Ancillary functions, such as kitchen and bathrooms, line the northern edge of the plan, where the roof is lowest, while the grander communal spaces, main bedrooms and study are placed on the southern side to take advantage of the soaring double-height volume created by the roof as it rises. Closed to the north, the house opens up dramatically to the south to take advantage of the Mediterranean light and breathtaking views. The plan is bisected on the short cross axis by a circulation core, which separates the children’s bedrooms from the communal spaces and extends northwards to create a formal sequence of approach and entry. On the southern side, this route culminates in a broad shaded terrace.

Glazed on three sides, with sliding doors that dematerialise the boundary between house and terrace, the outdoor spaces form a natural and fluid extension of the interiors, in the Mediterranean tradition. Responding to the Spérone context, the house is timber-framed. The most prominent structural members are the long, glue-laminated beams that support the cedar shingle roof. These tapering, rib-like beams cantilever out on the southern side to form a brise-soleil canopy, which attenuates the roof in an aerodynamic curve.

Sketches + Drawings

Construction

Quote

Luis Fernandez-Galliano

“The house in Corsica is a ripple across the ground; a warm wooden wave that extends from the land towards the sea.”

AV Monografias, July-August 1999

Facts + Figures

  • Appointment: 1990
  • Completion: 1993
  • Area: 450m²
  • Client: Mr Jean Bousquet
  • Structural Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
  • Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon & Everest
  • M+E Engineer: Roger Preston & Partners