French architectural firm St. André-Lang has designed and built a compact circular housing prototype that incorporates corn cobs within the walls. The 20 square meter (215 square foot) pavilion style home is located in the protected parklands of Muttersholtz, France and recently won the Archi<20 competition for low-cost, environmentally-friendly architecture. “The total cost of the project was €7,000 [US$8,705],” St. André-Lang architect and co-creator Bastien Saint-André told Gizmag. “But we had some partners (carpenter, woodworker) – the real cost would be around €10,000 [US$12,435].”
Dubbed “Tourner autour du Ried,” the prototype home is designed in a circular shape, allowing sunlight to filter through the structure during the entire day. Following the sun’s daily east-to-west cycle, the roof features a central light shaft that illuminates living zones according to the needs of the different daily activities. For example, the sleeping quarters are located at the east, a work station and desk towards the south-east and an open living space located in the south. When considering the home’s sustainability “it is important to think [of] the position of the different spaces inside the house according to the orientation,” said Saint-André.
At the center of the home lies a central garden that is filled with local plant life, which allows nature to find its way into the home. “As the entire living space is centered on this inside patio, nature really enters into the inhabitant's life,” said Saint-André.
When devising the theme for the building, the architects wanted to come up with an unusual and innovative idea for the facade and were thus inspired to fill the walls with corn cobs. “We had in mind all those traditional corn dryers that you can find all along the Alsatian plain, in the north east of France,” Saint-André said. “Not innovative in a technical way, but more in a traditional way.”
Since the home is still in a prototype phase, the structure lacks weather proofing, electricity, plumbing and other living facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom. However, bearing in mind that the home took less than one month to build, the project takes a positive step forward towards future developments of low-cost sustainable homes.
Furthermore, St. André-Lang is currently looking to develop the concept on a bigger scale. “We're in contact with another landscape festival for reinterpreting the concept,” said Saint-André. "For the moment, no precise plans. But we're open to any opportunity!"