Living Without Electricity in Normandy

Living Without Electricity in Normandy

Cambria Bold
Nov 12, 2009

Jean-Baptiste Barache's home in a small Normandy town two hours northwest of Paris was an architecture experiment "seeking to integrate us with, not isolate us from, the elements," and the house appears to be literally dropped onto a field. After paying a local barn builder to put up a frame, Barache collected recycled lumber from theater sets, veneer and particleboard, and red cedar shingles for the exteriors. Oh, and there's no electricity.

How is daily life without electricity?

Going without electricity doesn't mean forgoing power, but it does cast daily life in a much simpler mold. A gas canister fuels the simple stovetop in the kitchen; a homemade wood-burning stove diffuses heat through the house in a slow, steady burn. And come twilight, Barache and his wife, Mie, light the wicks on the oil lamps and watch the flames flicker. "I was very moved by Junichiro Tanizaki's book In Praise of Shadows when I was designing this," the architect admits. "I love the light of a flame creating shadows. It's a very Japanese notion, beauty that does not reveal itself.

Read the full article and see many more pictures at Dwell.

Images: Céline Clanet

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