THE Architectes conceals nautical sports base under a grassy beach dune

This water-sports facilities building by THE Architectes has been built into the side of a grassy dune to minimise its visual impact on the coastline (+ slideshow).

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

The one-storey nautical base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, France, was designed by Paris studio THE Architectes with a reinforced concrete structure and a turf roof that conceals the bulk of the building.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

"This nautical base is situated in the midst of an exceptional landscape – next to the coast, nestled between pristine dunes, and close to a rocky cliff," said the design team.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

"To install sports facilities ever so discreetly in the heart of this eco-sensitive site, it is hidden in the existing dune," they explained.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

Just the north facade of the building shows above ground. Clad in planks of azobé – an African hardwood chosen for its resilience – it faces out onto a promenade and the sea beyond.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

"The reception areas, offices and activity spaces are placed along this facade to take advantage of exterior views," said Juhel.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

Seven sets of doors provide direct access from the seafront to a public toilet, storage spaces and reception, as well as to the separate wet and dry equipment stores and changing facilities at the back of the building.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

A set of square skylights channel light into the hallways and backrooms of the building.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

On the exterior, the translucent domes and timber-clad shafts of the light wells peak just above the surface of the dune.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

Following the slope of the dune, the cladding connects with a low wall that borders a pathway around the perimeter.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

"The exterior treatment creates continuity with the existing retaining wall elements of the dune by the use of azobé planks," added the team.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

A small decking and stepped seating area attached to the western side of the building helps to blend the structure into the dune.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

Subtle placement of signage on one side of the facade sees individual characters spaced plank-width apart.

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes

Photography is by Stéphane Chalmeau.


Project credits:

Project architects: THE architects – David Juhel and Joachim Seyer
Landscape architects: Atelier Passerelle
Structural engineering consultants: Serba
Fluids engineering consultants: Picard-Joré

Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes
Floor plan – click for larger image
Nautical Base in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez by THE Architectes
Sections – click for larger image