It all started with a call to my mobile from Rem Koolhass: “I want to build the most beautiful house in the world!” and ended with a house listed as a historical monument only four years after its construction. A level that is partially underground, a 625 T concrete superstructure containing the bedrooms and a space in between housing the living quarters, generously, very generously glazed and opening onto the outside world. Regulations which were not too restrictive at that time and the mild local climate meant that single glazing could be used for almost the entire project.
Doing that allowed us of course to explore all kinds of daring solutions. The icing on the cake came from the contractor whose the managers, Michel COLOMBANI and Jean-François CAPDESSUS, allowed us to realize those solutions without calling them into question. They even suggested we used more audacious solutions in places. There was a real sense of synergy, and friendships were forged. A dream project? Maybe but there is no childbirth without labor pains. For instance, the opening portholes took a great deal of imagination and hard work in the making.
With Julien MONFORT, we were competing to identify the maximum number of possible solutions. This took time though, and the concrete had been poured before we found the perfect solution. I can’t remember who won, but what I know is that he has found the concept that was developed in the end. The only thing left to do was to find a contractor to make it... actually four contractors, as no single contractor wanted to take on the responsibility for the entire glazing. The first made the resin reveal lining, the second the mechanism.
The third supplied the glass and finally the architect put in the waterproof seal that had been chosen from a car seals catalogue. It was worth all the effort. The idea was ingenious and its development quite simple, but the technical concept has only been revealed to a few privileged people. The frame became an icon for the project and was featured in the film “Koolhaas Houselife”. The living room frame, 8m long and sliding over 14m with a doorway motor, the façade with its horizontal glazed return, the connection with the concrete of which had to absorb 30mm of differential movement , its inclined door opaque to mask the profiles and the joints, the kitchen frame, cut to fit closely the outline of the second floor supporting frame, the structural glazing balustrade, the 3 x 3m² glass roof above the elevator office, the embedded motorization front door... All this was accomplished: you can imagine all the things we planned that remained in our sketchbooks.