Guy Rottier

Maisons enterrées, 1965

Between 1965 and 1978, Guy Rottier developed this prospective and alternative series of Buried Houses (Maisons enterrées), based on his analysis of traditional earthen architecture. This principle of construction offered real, inexpensive answers to the housing issues of the 1960s: industrially produced materials, recycling and space savings. However, this type of “landscape” architectures is not made of earth, nor hollowed out of the ground, but covered over with the earth excavated for the foundations, then with lawns, terraces and any other type of covering element. The framework, composed of “tunnels,” results from the assembly of industrially manufactured concrete rings based on the principle of a game of dominos, then covered with earth or other materials, thereby ensuring the creation of perfectly watertight, soundproof and insulated spaces. In 1968, Rottier built a house for the sculptor Arman which he buried under a covering of earth. The perception of space in the living room is expanded by its wide opening to nature and by the presence of pillars covered with mirrors, which make the relationship between the inside and the outside more complex. These houses, by breaking with the concept of the façade, are not defined by expanses of walls but by the extension of the soil over the dwelling: the earth becomes the roof, transforming the house into a garden that the occupants can develop as they wish. Guy Rottier designed many houses based on this relatively simple and extremely modular principle of construction, making use of a wide variety of structures and claddings. “Sun” Buried House or “Water Terraces” House covered in water are examples of Rottier’s many variations on the same theme, attesting to his rich imagination and the challenges he posed to the imagination of future occupants. In the particularly ironic “Second-hand Architecture” Buried House, he covered it entirely with the bodies of old cars, utilizing the waste of our industrialized societies to create the dwelling space.

Nadine Labedade

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