Like the handmade abode of a lonely logger making unconventional use of his harvest, this conceptual home finds shelter in an unexpected place: a stack of cut tree trunks. “Wall of Logs” by Christophe Benichou consists of little more than two inhabitable boxes inserted into a pile of raw materials that have been left almost entirely untouched, other than their careful arrangement.
With the logs secured together and a sloped surface on one end, the house is climbable, mimicking the shape of the hills surrounding it. The interior is compact and modern, offering a spartan shelter from the elements; the two volumes are just barely connected enough to move from one to another.
“The ‘Wall of Logs’ is a concept habitat born during a hike on the Aubrac plateau in central France,” says Benichou. “In these vast expanses where gentle slopes undulate to infinity, a pile of logs blocks the eye. It’s a great wall in the landscape; a rampart, to perforate, to release the sight. Two monumental windows come to dig this mass. Around them are located all the functions of a habitat that came to colonize the wall. A refuge in the logs. Its heart of wood is wrapped in a thin bark of steel, concealing structure, carpentry and furniture, to offer two pure frames in the heart of nature.”
If built, it certainly wouldn’t be the first highly unconventional log-based structure, though it adds to an interesting trend of natural camouflage in forested settings. The design calls to mind a camouflaged remote tiny house by Hans Linberg, which is even more of a curiosity for the fact that it really does just look like a pile of logs when its window shutters are closed. In that case, only some of the logs are whole; most are just the cut ends acting as cladding. The structure is used as a recording studio.
Wall of Logs was designed as a deliberate counterpoint to another recent concept by Benichou called “Sesame.” Where the “Wall of Logs” feels raw, honest, and open, leaving no secrets to uncover, “Sesame” is more of a mystery. Set in a stark desert, the monolithic, minimalist structure has a similar feeling of being a strange home for a solitary nomad, just as uniquely suited to its environment, with cutouts in place of doors and windows.
Benichou explains that for him, “’Sesame’ evokes the ambiguity of a fixed or imminent movement, but also of an uncertain time, between ruin and contemporaneity.”
The architect says he believes in “a descriptive sensorial architecture … enunciating how Man and buildings are situated in their environment, a tell-tale achievement explaining what it stands for and what we are or wish to be. But as an architect for the senses as well, extolling the tangible characteristics of the location in which it is implanted, and moving the viewer as they are disclosed, but also as it fosters its own situations — a new inner emotional wealth. I am all for architecture with a sense and upsetting the senses.”