Hump-shaped house covered in plants
by Patrick Nadeau

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A layer of grasses, herbs and flowers blankets the roof of this hump-shaped house near Reims, France, by architect Patrick Nadeau (+ slideshow).

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

Named La Maison-vague, which translates as Wave House, Patrick Nadeau's project is one 63 experimental houses being built in the commune of Sillery, near Reims, and was designed with an arching profile to resemble the shape of a mound or hill.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

Plants wrap around the east and west facades, primarily to provide thermal insulation but also to allow the house to fit in with its rural surroundings.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

"The traditional relationship between house and garden is changed, disturbed even; the project encompasses both in the same construction," said Nadeau.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

The architect worked alongside Pierre Georgel of landscape design firm Ecovégétal to design a planting scheme that encompasses herbs such as thyme and lavender alongside sedums, grasses and various other perennials.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

"The plants were selected for their aesthetic qualities and their ability to adapt to the environment," he said. " The technical challenge lay primarily in the steep slope that required the development of innovative systems for the maintenance of land and water retention."

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

An automatic watering system is integrated into the structure but is only intended for use during severe drought conditions.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

Timber was used for the entire structure of the house. An arching wooden frame creates the curved profile, while a raised deck lifts the building off the ground and creates an outdoor seating area.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

The north and south elevations are clad with transparent polycarbonate, which screens a mixture of clear glass windows and opaque timber panels.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

The front entrance leads directly into an L-shaped living and dining space that occupies most of the ground floor of the house. A kitchen and bathroom are tucked into one corner, while a spiral staircase leads up to a pair of bedrooms on a mezzanine floor above.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

Here's a project description from Patrick Nadeau:


La Maison-vague / Patrick Nadeau

The project context is based on experimentation, and initiated by the public housing council of Reims (HLM - l'Effort Rémois) - in a subdivision of 63 lots with heavy economic constraints.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

La Maison-vague uses vegetation for its architectural and environmental qualities, particularly in terms of thermal insulation. A fully vegetated shell protects the interior from summer heat and winter cold. The basic form is to encapsulate within a single mat of vegetation that undulates and floats above the ground, at sitting height (the rim surrounding the wooden shelf is kind of a big bench). The traditional relationship between house and garden is changed, disturbed even, the project encompasses both in the same construction.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

Inside, the volumes are also very simple. The ground floor, living room, kitchen and multimedia space can be opened by sliding walls. Upstairs, two bedrooms are separated by a bathroom, which is accessed by a mezzanine.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

Particular attention is paid to interior and exterior relationships. The terrace at the back of the house extends to the areas of the ground floor, for example, to dry in the sun after bathing.

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau

Upstairs shower space is enclosed by a bay window opening onto a panorama of nature. A sectional view that shows the inner and outer volumes does not exactly follow the same form. The inner space is drawn, at the top, by a semicylindrical shell and, on the ground floor by large cabinets restoring vertical walls, which includes a wardrobe, library, media storage and kitchen furniture.

Site plan of Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
Site plan - click for larger image

The house is built entirely of wood (structure, hull and facades gears). Only the foundation is concrete. The thermal performance is ensured by the north-south orientation, the vegetation of the hull and double wall facades. The outer walls are made of polycarbonate and the inner walls of glass and wood. A small wood stove in the living room provides heating for the entire space.

Ground floor plan of Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

The vegetation has been designed with Pierre Georgel (Ecovégétal). The house is covered with soil that mimics that of a natural slope. The technical challenge lay primarily in the steep slope that required the development of innovative systems for the maintenance of land and water retention.

First floor plan of Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
First floor plan - click for larger image

The plants were selected for their aesthetic qualities and their ability to adapt to the environment (resistance over time and minimal maintenance). It is a mix of sedums, grasses, thyme, lavender and other perennials and small aromatic herbs that are distributed according to the inclination of the hull. An automatic watering system is provided but it is only reserved for periods of very severe drought.

Roof plan of Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
Roof plan - click for larger image

The house is alive, changing its appearance, colour and odour with the seasons. New plants can be brought by the wind, insects or birds and gives the building a certain character or even a fallow ground-wave, hence the name La Maison-vague, which could equally and poetically signify an ocean wave or an open field (terrain vague).

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
Cross section

Surface area: 110 m2
Place of construction: the commune of Sillery near Reims

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
Long section

Client: Effort Rémois
Project management: Patrick Nadeau
Technical Consultant: AD & Services
Vegetation (experimental): Ecovégétal

Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
South elevation
Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
West elevation
Hump-shaped house blanketed by plants by Patrick Nadeau
North elevation
  • Nerdy

    Am I alone in thinking the idea of living underground is good for you if you are a mole but not very satisfying for a human family?

    • H-J

      This is not underground at all, it is under a layer of ground/earth but surely above ground. It even has windows on both sides of the structure.

  • Henri Hellström

    Residence for the modern Teletubbies.