Rygelle Dowding

Rygelle Dowding

Warren, NY, US


The Site

Located in the hills of southern France is the quaint medieval village of Lacoste. Also nestled comfortably in the hills is the quarry from which the city of Lacoste harvested all of their building materials. The quarry Carrier Saint Louis is precisely chiseled in a very angular and architectural way making the fifty foot walls almost perfectly plumb. This void in the earth serves as the site for this project. It makes for a very intricate and site specific design. Issues with the site include shear rock faces, sunlight to the lowest levels and entrance to the building based on preexisting topography. The constraints of the project do not allow for excessive demolition or excavation on the site. The limestone is to be left virtually undisturbed and the built environment must adapt and conform to what is already there.

Three different layouts were explored in terms of the massing of the building and the usage of the square footage of the quarry. Ideas of materiality begin to come into play in the designs. Ideas of form following the ‘big idea’ start to influence the way the building respects the site and the way it does not touch the quarry walls.

Once the overall building form was determined, the process of choosing locations for specific
purposes began. The client supplied the firm with a list of necessary spaces to be included. Each was arranged in a kind of hierarchy where public spaces and private spaces were grouped separately. The residential spaces and laboratories were set apart from the heavily populated areas for privacy. This resulted in three successive arcs within the space. The first arc being the public interior spaces, the second arc being the public exterior spaces and the third arc being the private and semiprivate spaces.

The building was given a heavily glazed envelope to allow as much light as possible to filter through from the quarry surface. Some of the glazing serves to emphasize the ‘big idea’ by showing the visitors the quarry wall as they descend deeper into the site itself. The glazing is held up by a double column system that also serves to support shading louvers where they are needed. The roof system is angled upwards to allow more light in.

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Status: School Project
Location: Lacoste, FR