When mentioning Odile Decq, we are talking about an outstanding, inspiring, and game-changer woman. A French architect and urban planner who likes speed as well as exploring new forms and paying attention to the material. Her work and commitment to design excellence have raised the profile of women in architecture. She has received more than 40 awards and honors. One of her most iconic works is Saint-Ange Residency, for which she was honored with several awards.
-2016 Rhône-Alpes national and National Wood Construction Award: 1st individual housing award.
-2015, Blueprint Awards, Best non-public Housing Project.
Saint-Ange Residency is a private multi-family residence. It covers an area 185 m2. It is situated in Seyssins, France, on the lower side of the plateau of Tour Saint-Ange’s park. It overlooks a broad area of greenery, on the slope leading to Grenoble’s golf course. On one hand, it provided the site with a unique and boundless view. While on the other hand, it was a hurdle to overcome due to its hard and narrow slope.
It brought the design and construction to a more difficult spot. However, Decq managed them for her benefit. She produced a masterpiece that stands among the space as a ruler with dignity. The reason is concluded in the following paragraphs. You will know everything about the project, starting from the design concept to the construction.
The primary idea behind the design was to maximize the view towards the valley. That is why the belvedere (1) was the best typology to be hosted by Saint-Ange Residency. Therefore, Decq chose to efficiently utilize a tower-like structure of three levels that twists to extend the view beyond the valley.
Furthermore, it goes even above the trees to take advantage of the view. Yet, it does not invade the privacy of the property from the north side.
- Belvedere: an architectural structure sited to take advantage of an excellent or scenic view.
Following the concept, it also got reflected on the openings. Windows are square-shaped, in which they are clustered on three elevations. Sunlight is allowed perfectly to enter the buildings during the day into the living rooms, studios, and all the other spaces in the remaining two levels. Nonetheless, the north façade is completely blank with no openings to maintain privacy from the Tour Saint-Ange.
The house is accessed from the lower part of the garden because of the slope. A mezzanine space with clerestory windows that emits light generously into the bleak backdrop.
The tower has all the rooms, stacked on top of each other with a spiral steel staircase for vertical circulation. The twist on the exterior of the tower is reflected in the interior spaces. Consequently, it creates a more interesting and dynamic feeling that breaks the monotony of both the building and the surroundings.
The ultimate goal of Odile Decq is to make the owner feel his uniqueness without being out of context. Her philosophy is to make people express their special personalities to build the new century.
Style and materials
It is not surprising that Odile is treating the building as a piece of art, a modern sculpture of monolithic architecture. It is covered completely from black wood cladding and natural finish from the inside and the black asphalt finish on the outside. The choice of wood is fitting perfectly with the context which makes the building blend with the surroundings. At night, when everything goes dark and only the windows are lighted. Image (6). It promotes that mysterious feeling of the forest. As the sparkling eyes of a fox standing among the trees.
As mentioned before, the site has a hard and narrow slope. Consequently, the construction phase was also challenging. Therefore, a retaining wall was placed at the rear of the house, where the slope extends up to the sculpture garden. Besides, a one-story base for the 100 m2 art studio embedded in the hillside. It acts as a concrete foundation – along with the retaining wall – for the three-story tower.
The first floor opens to a broad deck on the studio’s roof. Taking advantage of the mesmerizing view Grenoble’s golf course, the tower ends up with a recessed balcony overlooking the panoramic view of the landscape.
The fearlessness and lack of commonness in this project are what make it special. The most minor details are taken care of to achieve the most adaptable unique structure with a multi-disciplinary approach. Odile Decq has stated that her theory in architecture is that a building remains a place where people enjoy the freedom to move and experience in an adequate condition. A place to forget the hardness of life. A humanistic approach that she is seeking to achieve in every structure she creates.