La salle de réception du Château de Mimande, grange rénovée par A&A Heitz Architecture

Building tomorrow and living with the past

Posted by Armand Heitz on

For millennia, man has built out of necessity, with the materials he had available. A handful of men was enough to build a village and make their community independent. Just a century ago, a family lived in two rooms, warmed themselves over a wood fire, took advantage of the warmth of animals, placed fodder to insulate the attic.

Bigger, more presumptuous but also more energy-consuming, more expensive.

The industrial revolution and fossil fuels have pushed the limits of what is possible. Today, the design of the house as we know it in our society is one of the neuralgic points of the current crisis and the example of the dependence of the citizen on the global economy. Residents have entrusted their access to comfort to third parties: energy suppliers, bankers, material suppliers, etc.

Image film Wall-E illustration of human aberrations

The sedentary lifestyle of humanity dates back 15,000 years. Man has been able to adapt his habitat according to the seasons, uses and places. In 100 years, man has wanted to free himself from all these rules and has gotten himself into a trap that he can hardly get out of.

While the news reminds us of the fundamentals, man must relearn how to use simplicity. Concrete, steel, composite materials, all resulting from a heavy, energy-intensive and costly industry, have indeed made it possible to create new architectural processes which unfortunately generate other necessities. The bay windows are accompanied by air conditioning. The unoccupied pavilion during the day is unnecessarily heated. The buildings rise as quickly as the car parks extend around them. Subdivisions push back the natural spaces that are so important to the planetary ecosystem.

Field of solar panels, producing several thousand megawatts of renewable electricity

Live from our experiences

The 20th century has succeeded in concealing a whole cultural and natural heritage. The 20th century also brought us the experiences, travels and mistakes that today allow us to find more responsible solutions. Technology and tradition are complementary in responding to today's challenges. Sobriety, as the ancients had adopted it, and creativity, the fruit of the last hundred years, now generate projects concerned with a more serene future.

Alice School in Prévessin-Moëns by Studio Erick Saillet

The revolution of consciousness

The wealth of tomorrow will be in simplicity. For this, it is time to build with know-how and moderation. Rehabilitate, renovate, reuse, reduce… Symbiosis with nature is the guarantee of a more consensual future for future generations. The National Order of Architects emphasizes this importance, of the economy of built surfaces and the need to deal with what already exists.

The A & A HEITZ Architecture agency did not wait for national prerogatives to apply it. The renovation of the outbuildings of the Château de Mimande illustrates the desire to compose with the old, in sobriety. Today, clients entrust us with their project for this purpose.

Armand Heitz

Fig. 1: Image taken from the 2008 animated film WALL-E, Pixar Animation Studios. This film illustrates the human aberrations caused by our current lifestyles, in the not so distant future.

Fig. 2: Generation parks of several thousand megawatts of renewable electricity, ready to be built, are now put on hold, given the rise in construction costs. (Gérard Julien/AFP) Example of excess of energy and economic one-upmanship when the limits are reached.

Fig. 3: Example of reinterpretation of ancestral methods to protect against heat and shelter from bad weather. Studio Erick Saillet's Alice School is adorned with an awning to protect its bay windows from the sun's rays in summer.

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