20 frugal renovations in Auvergne Rhône Alpes brought together in one book

If Dominique Gauzin-Müller (architect-researcher), Alain Bornarel (engineer) and Philippe Madec (architect and urban planner) are the standard-bearers of the “Manifesto for happy and creative frugality in architecture and the development of urban territories and rural”, this idea is trickling down to many territories today. In Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, more than 1,400 signatories to this manifesto and 200 active members are working to review building methods.
To materialize this approach, Ville & Aménagement Durable published in October 2022 a book devoted to frugal architecture highlighting 20 examples of rehabilitations in the region. A book carried in partnership with the happy & creative Frugality collective AURA and the Union Régionale des CAUE d’Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. On the program: feedback and testimonials from players.

“Sparing the territory, thinking about humans and non-humans”

Frugality covers a wide spectrum of notions: according to Franck Hulliard, president of Archipel-Maison de l’Architecture Rhône-Alpes, “the key word of frugality could be ‘no more building'”, he says, on the occasion of the presentation of the book, Thursday, March 30. And to continue: “The objective is to find how to rehabilitate while sparing the territory: thinking about the future of humans and non-humans“. Same story with Philippe Beaujon, associate architect, Vurpas Architectswhich built the H7 business incubator in Lyons : “You have to keep as much as possible. Everything that is not to be demolished is not to be rebuilt“.

“Dealing with the already there” is already frugality”

In turn, the book covers frugal projects in soil, energy, materials and new processes. “Dealing with the already there is already frugality., notes Nicolas Emin, project manager at Ville & Aménagement Durable, and co-author of the book. In the frugality part on the ground, discover Curiox in Ugine in Savoie, an old 20th century church transformed into an art and meeting center, but also “Le Châtelard”, a 17th century farmhouse restructured into a theater and media library in Ferney Voltaire in Ain. The book also surprises with the elevation of a small old building to accommodate a modern townhouse in Clermont-Ferrand. A unique project where the project architect Boris Bouchet says “that no heritage unites the sufficient conditions for its demolition”.

Preserve buildings as much as possible

In terms of material frugality, the idea is to preserve the buildings as much as possible, following the example of the restructuring of vestiges from the Middle Ages with an extension for the development of a media library in Montbonnot-Saint-Martin in Isère. As for the frugality of energy, it is found in 5 projects, including the renovation of a house where the wood of the old frame was reused to create the structure of a mezzanine and the wall covering. “For the rest, the fir tree was sawn a few kilometers away as well as the chestnut wood of the parquet“, explains a carpenter of the project.

Effort, collective intelligence, dialogue…

If the economy of materials, resources seem to emerge from these projects, one thing is not to be saved, “it’s the gray matter”notes Nicolas Ferro, associate engineer-architect, Atelier 43. All of these architects defending frugal architecture advocate dialogue, collective intelligence, the effort to understand the place, to adapt, to accept the ‘unexpected, because “we are continuing projects, we are not starting from scratch”, concludes Philippe Beaujon, associate architect, Vurpas Architectes.

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