two esplendide houses of Bordeaux alex mitxelena   I  asier larraza There are two incredible houses not very far from where we live. Each one speaks volumes on how these people have chosen to live. These amazing owners and their amazing houses and the incredible connection achieved says it all.
The type of landscape that you see on the road to Bordeaux is quite different to what we are used to seeing around here. It looks like a place without a name, villages or any attention-grabbing place whatsoever. The road to Bordeaux is surrounded by colour and textures. Nothing else.
The same can be said about the city we find at the end of the road. The big city of Bordeaux is like a broad sea of mono-colour low houses.
But even though all the houses look the same, there are a few exceptions to be found. They stand out in contrast in this wideness.
And not because of their height or their bulk, but because they are different. That makes them all the more special when you find them.
The Balde has had the opportunity to visit the Maison Lemoine built by Rem Koolhaas in 1997 and the Latapie built by the pair Lacaton & Vassal in 1993.

A wealthy man, Monsieur Lemoine, became paralysed from the neck down after suffering a car accident. He was unable to continue living in his remarkable XVIII house in the city centre of Bordeaux, so he decided to build a new one in one of the small villages in the surrounding mountains. Working closely with the architect, he built an incredible house. He passed away last year after five years. looks amazing from the outside; it’s like a box floating in mid-air. Poised on the top on the hill, the sky marks its geometric light. You climb the hill and enter into the patio. You pass under the wall and face the box, held up by a special structure.
You go inside to the small dark kitchen by a rock. This is where you first come across the lift that Mr Lemoine used to use to get around the house. It’s about the width of a room, and moves up and down by using a hydraulic system. It can be stopped at any height. This is where Mr Lemoine kept his work desk and other pieces of furniture.
We take the lift and space opens up before us. We get off and go through the glass walls of the living room that then open onto the garden. The open space at the bottom of the box is the living room, and after the garden, a panoramic view of Bordeaux greets the eye.
We take the lift again and head up to the box that contains the bedrooms. There are holes cut in this box to allow exterior views. These holes are set at different heights, perfect for someone standing up and for someone confined to a wheelchair. We can see all the surrounding area without it seeing us.
The Widow Lemoine now lives comfortably in this story-filled incredible house that retains the memories of her husband.

The Latapies had a plot of land in your average estate just outside Bordeaux. They also had enough money to build a house there too. After a few years they met the young architects Anna Lacaton and Jean Phillipe Vassal. They told them what they wanted and that was the beginning of a close working relationship.
The estate the house is found in is full of small house along with the odd tower. Sheds and greenhouses have popped up in the gardens of some of these houses rather spontaneously. The way the house fits into its surroundings is remarkable.
When viewed from the street, the house is opaque when it’s closed. It has no windows or doors. However, when it’s open, you suddenly realize there is a door and it’s full of windows. The house is covered by much of the cheap material to be found on the estate. Inside, the house has all the rooms it needs in a wooden box. Two floors clearly separate the living room and kitchen from the bedrooms. These rooms are made from and furnished with everyday materials.
The part of the house that gives onto the garden is transparent because this part of the house is covered with the plastic that is used to make greenhouses. All of the big rooms here have their use. This is because the greenhouse part has been conceived as an extra part of the house. The owners have had to learn how to heat up this house with this room.