Noémie Meney creates modern summerhouse
inside French garden pavilion

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French architect Noémie Meney retained as much of the original structure as possible when converting this 1930s garden building into a summer guesthouse.

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The building is located in the garden of a larger house in Toulon, near Marseille. It had been unused for a long time, so the owners asked architect Noémie Meney to convert it into self-contained guest quarters.

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"The biggest challenge was to conserve the special qualities of the building – its relation to the garden, the internal height, and the brick arch, which allows you to see the garden and the sky from anywhere in the building," Meney told Dezeen.

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To do this, she kept the arch open, and set a new facade of folding-sliding doors further behind it. When open, these doors offer guests a closer connection with the outdoors, and make the space feel more like the shelter it was originally designed as.

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"The project has adjusted itself to the existing space in the way a swallow's nest clings to an attic's framework, altering the volume as little as possible," said Meney.

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The 16-square-metre building has a double-height living space inside, which is just four metres high at its tallest point. It also has a small bathroom and kitchen to the side, separated by a curtain.

"Guests can shower in this open space, while enjoying views of nature – thus the exceptional rapport between the inside and outside has been preserved," said Meney.

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A mezzanine bedroom is accessed by a ladder and screened by wicker, which lets in light while maintaining privacy. The material was chosen over perforated metal to reflect the building’s connection with nature.

"I wanted a living material with its own imperfections and irregularities. The colour changes and it moves a little with humidity," says Meney. "It also offers a good quality of light, with a soothing colour, which you cannot get with a cold material such as metal."

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Photography is by Germain Ferey.

Here's a short description of the project written by Noémie Meney:


Pavillon d'été

This project aimed at turning a brick shack into a holiday bungalow. It was to be fully equipped for a couple, featuring a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and a sitting room.

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The high-ceilinged original shed enjoyed a remarkable communication with the outside through an ample arch. In order not to tamper with its interesting roominess, the project has adjusted itself to the existing space the way a swallow’s nest clings to an attic’s framework, altering the volume as little as possible.

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This "nest" which occupies the upper volume of the shed is hidden from view by wickerwork screens. Like Venetian blinds or mucharabiehs, they allow a person to see without being seen. Wickerwork, a material designers commonly use for chairs, is here given a modern new lease of life.

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Plan - click for larger image

On the ground floor, the kitchen and the bathroom are partitioned off. In the living room, thanks to an ample curtain, one can have a shower in a vast open space, while enjoying a good view of the natural environment. Thus, the exceptional rapport between the inside and outside of the shelter has been preserved. No visual or material barrier has been added: the orchard appears as an extension of the living space.

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Section - click for larger image

There is no such thing as an inside/outside boundary line. The humble shack now affords an outdoor lifestyle in the midst of an orchard, with all modern conveniences.