Cooperative housing in Erdeven - Architect: j+e architectes; Photo: Antoine Mercusot
site plan
Architect: j+e architectes

A group of friends, who used to study together architecture in Bretagne, decided to build a house together: three families, among them Benjamin Jardel and Nicolas Epaillard, whos office, j+e architectes, designed the building. The collective found and bought three adjacent plots on the outskirts of the little town of Erdeven, meant for three single-family houses, and came up with a new type of housing.

Four units housing three apartments, shared space and an office area are separated by sun-drenched greenhouses . The vegetation is a wild meadow in all shared places, except for the vegetable garden. Each house has its own garden with an individually designed terrace.

The project was meant to be innovative in all aspects, starting from the first sketches. Environmentally friendly, with low carbon emissions, constructed from local materials only, with the help of future inhabitants. “Les Pieds Vertes” is be a statement against countless new-built single-family houses and reactionary repetition of traditional aesthetics.

Building such a house required a lot of effort during the planning phase, as the regulations in landscape protection zones – Erdeven lies in one of them – impose strict rules on volumes and materials of newbuild houses. Luckily i+e architectes could convince the authorities that wood shingles and green roofs will match the landscape as well as white walls and ceramic roof slates typical for the region. Because of limited height of the volume and compulsory roof angle of 45 degrees, making a two-storey house was possible only with roof windows.

Cooperative housing in Erdeven with VELUX roof windowsArchitect: j+e architectes; Photo: Antoine Mercusot

Benjamin Jardel

architect and co-owner of the house

During the design process, we were conscious of the right intensity of daylight in each room. Sun floods the living rooms, while VELUX roof windows ensure an adequate amount of daylight in the bedrooms. Daylight keeps us in constant touch with our environment and sunlight brings our architecture to life.

Cooperative housing in Erdeven with VELUX roof windows
Architect: j+e architectes; Photo: Fanch Galivel

The apartments combine the advantages of tradition and innovation, each of them offering different spatial experiences. Plain plaster walls and natural flooring materials – wood or linoleum – leave the inhabitants room for expressing their personalities.

All four units – three apartments and the office space – cover two floors, the upper one relying on VELUX roof windows only. The district architect, who approved the project, saw this solution as the only option allowing a long, straight traditional roof form.


Cooperative housing in Erdeven with VELUX roof windows
Architect: j+e architectes; Photo: Fanch Galivel

The house is divided by three greenhouses, storing heat from the solar radiation to return it during the night. A dual ventilation system with heat recovery as well as a thick insulation layer ensures an optimal indoor climate.

Recycling or using biodegradable resources is a rule in the entire house: straw and hemp were used for insulation, collected rainwater irrigates the greenhouses, wooden shingles of the facade left untreated.

Project details

Project: Cooperative Housing
Location: Erdeven, France 
Architect: Benjamin Jardel & Nicolas Epaillard / J+e architectes
Year: 2018
Photos: Antoine Mercusot / Franch Galivel