Off the Grid Design Competition
– Top 3!

Canada

Woman in Swimsuit

Samuel Bernier-Lavigne, professor

Woman in Swimsuit

Antoine-Étienne Gélinas-Michel

Woman in Swimsuit

Maurane Paradis

Woman in Swimsuit

Introduction
Samuel Bernier-Lavigne, professor, and director of the xFab, a research group on digital architecture and fabrication at Laval UniversitySchool of Architecture, in Québec, Canada.

Antoine-Étienne Gélinas-Michel, M.Arch + M.Sc student atLaval UniversitySchool of Architecture, and member of the xFab research group.

Maurane Paradis, M.Arch + M.Sc student at Laval UniversitySchool of Architecture, and member of the xFab research group.


When and how were you first introduced to architecture?
Without talking about a precise moment, we think that architecture is something that shapes the human experience from childhood. Sometimes, it seems difficult to dissociate constructs and imaginary. Architecture is essentially an unconscious experience in the sense that it induces a lot of images and reminiscence of the past.

We are of those who believe that we are made of the people we meet. Whether with teachers or mentors and friends at school, our conscious experiences have awoken our curiosity and sensibility to architecture. It is through these discussions that our personal vision of architecture evolves.


Design philosophy
Our design philosophy revolves around new technologies, and their potential to change our approach to the design and fabrication of architecture.

We are interested in seeing how, for example, digital concepts and tools - ranging from parametric design to artificial intelligence - can help us explore new approaches to the design of architectural spaces, as well as allowing us to materialize these experiments by expanding the usual methods of construction with digital fabrication.

At the same time, we realize that these concepts allow us to return to some fundamental questions about architecture, and thus create a dialogue with its history.We try to find a common ground between these two poles in order togenerate innovation in architecture.


What does architecture mean to you?
Architecture is not just the art of construction; it is also an intellectual discipline, a world of curiosity. It does not mean the end, but the beginning of something while having the power to ask questions.

Architecture is creating a place, whether real, virtual or latent. It is an opportunity to meet. Space at the time of multiple realities and evanescent forms.


Design process
The project explores the architectural potential of an “off the grid” home, with less than 37 square-meter of inhabitable space. We are locating the project in an abandoned white granite quarry in the center of Vermont, in Graniteville. The generative process of the project is inspired by the way granite blocks are extracted from the cliffs and then split in pieces for export. Thus, we divided the dwelling into different rooms, each corresponding to an essential function of the house, aiming to develop spaces that can offer a rich architectural and spatial experience. By positioning the small rooms on the site, we aimed to take possession of the quarry’s territory and generate by this idea many exterior spaces, counterbalancing the area limitation imposed on the interior. The organization of functions is articulated around the concept of heat, positioning the main fire of the kitchen as an anchor to the project. Our project thus proposes a post-anthropocene vision, by committing to bring life back to an industrial place of the past.

The idea for the material process of the project resides in an ecological approach of reusing what is abundantly available in the quarry. Thus, we use the white granite waste, crushing it to make a cement paste similar to concrete. This paste is then conveyed by a pump to a robotic arm - the only element related to the construction brought by man on the site - which allows us to 3d print at large scale the different fragments of the project. For the assembly, a crane is already available on the site, which was used in the past to move the rocks in the quarry. The fragments are placed one on top of the other to concretize the inhabitable spaces, bringing the experience of the stratum – highly present in the quarry - to the scale of the materiality of the project.

In addition to the domestic spaces, we designed water retention basins, gardens, a green wall and relaxation spaces, oriented along the main axis of the project, generating variations in the progressive sequence of the project.

interview - video 

Rock of Ages ©Samuel Bernier-Lavigne, Antoine-Étienne Gélinas-Michel & Maurane Paradis

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Rock of Ages ©Samuel Bernier-Lavigne, Antoine-Étienne Gélinas-Michel & Maurane Paradis

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Rock of Ages ©Samuel Bernier-Lavigne, Antoine-Étienne Gélinas-Michel & Maurane Paradis

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Rock of Ages ©Samuel Bernier-Lavigne, Antoine-Étienne Gélinas-Michel & Maurane Paradis

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