Stunning alpine chalet rises up from a tiny footprint

Caraccard Home - Chamoix, France

On a hidden hillside, carved into the landscape, a family home has been created. In this case, ‘family’ has multiple meanings. It has been tenderly designed for a family, but conception was dedicated to continuity and connection. Created by architect Renaud Chevallier from the French architectural firm Chevallier Architectes, the Caraccard home was designed for the son of an existing client of Renaud’s father; a confusing lineage, but heartfelt beginning for a project close to home.

Located in Chamoix, near the junction of France, Switzerland, and Italy, this project builds on the Swiss ‘raccard’, which is an alpine building typically made from timber and resembles a raised attic. In this way, the home is built on top of itself, piece by piece, while maintaining minimal impact on the existing terrain. Caraccard has honored this tradition by making use of an already existing tiny concrete base to build upon. Smart in theory, but difficult to execute, mainly because it needed to be occupied for most of the year. Real planning needed real solutions, especially given the steep terrain it was built on.

One of the most striking elements of this project is the cladding, which was custom designed to reinforce the natural ‘box’ shape of the chalet, and made mainly of larch timber, a species of tree with bark that is extremely thick and fire resistant. The overall structure of the exterior levels gives the look of rubik’s cube levels in mid-turn, swiveled on an angle with a playful asymmetry. The exterior therefore stacks as concrete, wood, and a metal roof, giving the onlooker a sense of what materials will be at play inside.

When stepping in, the warmth of the space is immediately reflected in the caramel-colored wooden cladding, which has been thoughtfully complimented with the abundance of natural light. A major installation highlight is the bay window which is situated in the living space and creates a picturesque view, encompassing all parts of the landscape that can be endlessly explored right from the couch.

Technical Sheet

Name of the project: Caraccard
Situation: Chamonix Mont-Blanc France
Architect: Renaud Chevallier
Design team: David Castagna, Thibault Forissier, Sophie Rubin
Project completion date: 2021

Steep terrain is inherently risky, but the architects were careful to make use of the 360 degree view and designed each area according to the course of the sun and the view that goes along with it.
Wood is reinforced from large elements of the interior design, such as the flooring, to the more subtle details, like the coffee table, which uses a thick pane of glass as a seal overtop, making use of two materials effortlessly. Black steel meanders its way to the attic and bottom floor, where the bedrooms also experience a view of their own, with long, panoramic windows that display the snow-capped mountains.

This project is first and foremost about warmth, whether it is that of the family ties that made it possible or the light streaming from above the mountains which coats each room in a homely haze.

Chevallier Architectes

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