SS 2020 Burning Down the House
Tania Perret, Manon Zimmerli.

The Grid House

As we looked at different wood constructions to start building our model, we didn’t get fascinated by a
traditional house, but by a specific wood connection. This one is made out of 5 elements: a square vertical
one, out of which 4 horizontal elements extend in the x and y axes.

This modular and extendable structure generates a strict regular system. Our purpose through the different fires will be to release our design of this rational and fenced way of building: we want the grid to disappear.
The column
The chimney
The white wall
The chimney
The private office
The living room

Since we are rather working with a construction system than a house, we avoid thinking too much about the

interior space and resume it to fundamental elements, namely an entrance and a stairwell.

The terrace
The mezzanine

We also placed floors and walls, which reinforce the wood structure against horizontal constraints. To build them, we added a thin secondary wood frame inside the main grid structure, on which we fixed cardboard elements. This material burns really well, so it helped us to set the fire inside the house.

The winter garden
The balcony

The fire worked as we expected: it mainly destroyed the half of the house facing the entrance and didn’t

reach the stairwell. It actually opened the grid so that the house can start spreading and evolve in a different way. Almost all the cardboard has disappeared and the thin secondary wood structure is now partially visible.

The living room
The terrace
The mezzanine

The impact of the burning was really strong and a big part of the house has been destroyed. Nevertheless the fire didn’t affect the structure identically at every joint connection. We made an inventory of every assemblage point and try to identify similarities between them. We are now looking for (a) new system(s) to rebuild the connections in a new way. Since several of them totally disappeared, the original cube shape is not visible anymore. The grid has started to vanish.

The chimney is placed on the circulation area and to this extent establishes a gathering place. Two domestic situations confront each other : the fireplace and the stairwell. This intervention aims also to give a better insight of how big everything has to be related to the body scale, as the table that appeared in the movement 2.
Axonometry East
Ground Floor Plan
The model came out of the fire very much burnt, and we had to find ways to rebuilt it, at first mostly driven by the instinct. Every movements were generated by the ambition of reenforcing the structure that has remained and later by the ambition of shaping spaces.
First Floor Plan

This « instinctive » process helped us to try different possibilities and to have a certain freedom, however we need to figure out what could be our final intention and how connected that may be with the first intention to « get rid of the grid ».

Second Floor Plan

We start to realize that the grid
could as well become a friend...

Since we took the time to visualize what kind of spaces / functions we wanted to achieve in the house, it became a bit easier to build the model: a new motivation appeared.

The fire place
Third Floor Plan

Nevertheless it was hard work. In the plans that I receive, the new elements were always drawn completely finished, so I first had to take a little time to observe them carefully and to think about how the new parts function constructively with each other to build them the right way.

The living room
Roof Plan

It was a step by step process, which needed patience and reflection. Cutting and sanding the woods by hand also takes some time and the do-it-yourself shop is kind of far away, consequently I really wanted to avoid mistakes.

The mezzanine
Axonometry North

Project by: Tania Perret, Manon Zimmerli

Studio Alex Lehnerer, ETH