As urban spaces become saturated and environmental enjoyment takes hold in modern society, the latest architectural trends delve into the green lifestyle. Contemporary architects have adopted strategies that go from the most formal avant-garde approaches to a convergence of tradition and modernity. Their objectives extend beyond domestic construction into public spaces and buildings.
Countless models illustrate the relentless pursuit of creating living spaces close to nature. The imposing Chapel of St. Benedict in Sumvitg, Graubünden, Switzerland, where in 1988 the renowned Swiss architect Peter Zumthor combined historical influences with recent expressions of structural design is a perfect example. Another example is the rural tourism apartments in Vilarińo, Pontevedra, Spain, designed by the Galician architect Alfonso Penel, where warm wood-paneled interiors protect the phlegmatic avant-garde facades. Both projects are paradigmatic of the current preferences in rural architecture.
Today, most architectural interventions in rural areas aim to develop bio-sustainable concepts that include an efficient use of renewable energy. Some of these projects also express interest in improving the quality of life. The challenge is to apply the resources for such purposes without sacrificing creativity, imagination, elegance or durability.
Villa Solaire is a luxurious exponent of the renew interest in rural architecture from the prestigious French firm JKA. This project by JKA’s founder, architect Jérémie Koempgen, features the total transformation of an old villa in the historic Pied de la Plagne district in Morzine, France.
At Villa Solaire, the ability to harmonize esthetics, engineering, and physical environment reconciles the past and present with courage and good taste.
If people thought the use of wood and rustic elements in the rescue of rural buildings would be displaced by synthetic materials and sophisticated technology, they would be surprised seeing the opposite in Villa Solaire. The essential purpose was to preserve the old charm of the villa, incorporating modifications from the remaining structure without detriment to the idyllic atmosphere that surrounds it.
The solution was to give the house a uniform wooden coating, whose assembly could set a dynamic sequence, inserting cuts, drafts and grooves that allow the entry of light into the heart of the building. The minimalist Moorish patterns of the outer timber —harmonize with the contemporary touches of the archaic identity and take advantage of the play of light and shadows at different times of the day, creating a beautiful effect.
Inside, the space is divided into four separate suites, including nighttime areas and ultra modern amenities. The villa is surrounded by a succession of interconnected sections at different levels that serve as common areas where guests share kitchen, dining, and recreational facilities. The functions for private use are integrated with each independent unit, although there is a clearly distinct set of scales between bedrooms, bathrooms, and common areas to avoid a spatial routine. At the same time, the avant-garde ideas create a delicate dialog with the rural legacy. This hybrid conception is evident not only in the constructive recreation of the interior, but also in the updated selection of furnishings and neutral colors, which establish the coherence between the modern and the rustic finishes.
At Villa Solaire, the ability to harmonize esthetics, engineering, and physical environment reconciles the past and present with courage and good taste. It is hard to imagine that in the bucolic air of the facade there are spaces created with such an advanced and sensualist criteria behind the rural air. Crossing the threshold is both memorable and surprising. The invitation to come inside has a double purpose: enjoying the newest comfort surrounded by the scenery and fresh air, and discovering an architectural revisionism in rural areas that depart from banality. ■