Atelier Delalande Tabourin (ADT) just completed a house made of brick shards, a material resulting from a long process of research on the reuse of locally sourced co-products and waste materials from local brickworks.
The interior organization of the original building was completely modified thanks to four architectural interventions, which, by perforating the existing floorboards, made it possible to create a series of levels of large light wells and new circulations.
These additions were made of grogged concrete, a material obtained from the crushed shards of defective bricks, the result of a long research process in collaboration with Anna Saint-Pierre, designer, and researcher on materials reuse. The new skylights created with this material are a visual extension of six imposing vertical brick steles that structure the original façade.
The building to rehabilitate stands in the heart of a 1950s residential zone in the town of Versailles. It is composed of three wooden boards clad on the façade with six imposing brick steles, which, thanks to their verticality and their contrasting materiality, lighten the massive, cubic appearance of the edifice.
The interior spaces were dark and the distribution of spaces was hard to read, isolating a wide, unused basement, and disconnecting living areas from the large peripheral garden. In order to answer these spatial challenges, four architectural interventions were created through large skylights perforating existing floorboards, thereby dazzling the material at every level. Breaking with the existing structure, their geometrically circular movement sequences different living experiences whilst also fluidifying transitions. A radical statement also aiming to restore importance and emotion to circulation areas, too often ignored or devoid of any particular physical sensation.
Working with co-products from brickworks in the region of Ile-de-France, these interventions are designed to extend the material of the existing steles in a contemporary and responsible wink to what is already there. This grogged concrete materiality is the result of a long research process initiated during the “resource analysis” phase with Anna Saint-Pierre.
During the visit to the DeWulf brickworks, we were quickly intrigued by an immense pile of shards referred to as “grogs”. This co-product is comprised of all the unsold, deformed and overly fired bricks, which are then crushed on the industrial site. From that moment, it seemed obvious to us that we had to seize upon this deposit as the material basis for our project.
A long series of tests and prototypes was undertaken in collaboration with the Cemex and Sols companies to determine the granulometry of interior and exterior flooring. In parallel to our vertical light wells, we wished to experiment with the density of grog in these floors to be able to subtly indicate the different spatial sequences to users.
With this same shards-based material, ADT wished to reveal the building’s former interior organization by, for example, highlighting the traces of the former partitions in the rooms, or by reusing the existing travertine flooring in the living room as a decorative element: see masonry banquette opposite.
A contemporary and activist rehabilitation, which, thanks to the sensory qualities of its materiality, enhances a spatial and emotional experience of the place, whilst also respecting its history and local skills.