Projects

Private House - Cambrai (F)

A modern-day chateau

In the gently rolling French countryside about a hundred kilometres from Calais, a single family residence explores an original relationship between history, nature and architecture. Aided by the skilful use of ceramic tile
Author
Laura Ragazzola
Architect
Alain Demarquette
Surfaces
CASALGRANDE PADANA
Year of completion
2011

Cambrai, a town in northwest France, boasts a wealth of history and art. Eighteenth century townhouses face onto the splendid square alongside baroque churches, mediaeval gates and bell towers that rise above the slate-roofed houses. The town is surrounded by magnificent countryside, dotted here and there with nineteenth century rural buildings as a reminder of the area’s artistic and historical heritage. Here, on a sunny slope in the grounds of a large property called “Le Chateau”, stands a “chateau contemporain”, a single-family villa with a white, geometrically structured volume that emerges starkly against the green countryside. Clearly visible from a distance, it stands in formal contrast to the soft, gently rolling lines of the landscape.
Emphasis is placed on the idea of capturing sunlight by means of an optimal orientation of the building. Large windows, which in some cases cover the entire façade, offer views over the landscape.
Nature and domestic space merge in an ever successful interplay of forms, volumes and sizes.
The house extends along a kind of backbone that adapts perfectly to the morphology of the land.
A series of elementary modules are juxtaposed at various levels along this spine like a Meccano construction, lending movement and dynamism to the entire structure.
The large glazed surfaces reduce visual impact and enable the landscape to enter and flow seamlessly through the volume of the house. The choice of materials also ties in with this goal. In particular, the ceramic tiling plays an important role as the unifying element running through the entire project.

For precisely this reason, the villa received a mention in the ninth edition of the Grand Prix
Casalgrande Padana Award, which recognises projects that excel for their successful use of
porcelain tile.
The architect used large-format porcelain tiles (‘Pietre di Sardegna’ collection from Casalgrande Padana, chosen in various finishes and sizes) to create a monochromatic floor covering that lends visual and material uniformity to spaces and emphasises the dialogue between nature and architecture. Exploiting the enormous flexibility of porcelain, the project achieves a harmonious balance between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The exteriors become open-air rooms that can be used in perfect continuity with the domestic interiors. Functionality is assured by choosing different finishes and sizes according to requirements. Due to the versatility of the ceramic tiles, a bushhammered texture was adopted for the external cladding, while light colours were also chosen for the swimming pool. In contrast, the interiors are dominated by darker colours, while the installation layout is meticulously adapted to the size and functions of each individual room.
Last but not least, the contemporary interior design has opted for minimalist furnishings that punctuate the fluid, airy domestic spaces where light reigns supreme.

Tiles
Casalgrande Padana: Pietre di Sardegna, Metallica, Basaltina, Metalwood, Mineral Chrome
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
10x60, 30x60, 60x60, 45x90
Colours
Pietre di Sardegna Porto Rotondo e Pevero, Metallica Ferro, Basaltina Linosa, metalwood Argento, Carbonio e Iridio, Mineral Chrom Brown
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): nessuna alterazione
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): alta
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): N/mm2 50÷60
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
Certifications and awards
LEED
EMAS
ISO 14001
NF UPEC
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