Poised on the southern tip of Corsica, the location for this house is spectacular – a dramatic, south-facing site high above a rocky bay and commanding long views out to sea. The client is an imaginative patron and the brief was ambitious – living and dining spaces, together with seven bedrooms, a study and guest and staff accommodation. The challenges of brief and site were compounded by strict planning regulations, which stipulated that the house should be built of timber, in keeping with its neighbours.
Approached from the landward side, the house is discreet, dug into the contours of the site and sheltered by a monopitch roof that spreads out like a protective bird’s wing. Organised on a single level, the house is wedge-shaped in both plan and section. Ancillary functions are confined to the northern edge of the plan, where the roof is lowest, while the grander communal spaces, main bedrooms and study are placed on the southern side to take advantage of the soaring double-height volume created by the monopitch as it rises.
Closed to the north, the house opens up dramatically to the south to take advantage of the light and breathtaking views. The plan is bisected on the short cross axis by a circulation core, which separates the children’s bedrooms from the communal spaces and extends northwards to create a ceremonial sequence of approach and entry. On the southern side, this route culminates in a broad shaded terrace.
Glazed on three sides, with sliding doors that dematerialise the boundary between house and terrace, the outdoors becomes a natural and fluid extension of the interior, in the Mediterranean tradition. Responding to the Spérone context, the house is timber-framed. The most prominent structural members are the long, laminated beams that support the cedar shingle roof. These tapering, rib-like beams extend on the southern side to form a brise-soleil canopy that attenuates the entire roof into a supple, aerodynamic curve.Location: Corsica, France, Europe Architect: Foster + Partners
Consultants: Ove Arup & Partners, Davis Langdon & Everest, Roger Preston & Partners