IT’S NICE TODAY. About climate, comfort and use – publication


Book release in July 2021, Ruby Press


The pleasure we derive from where we live depends largely on our ability to experience the exterior environment from inside our home. But buildings, especially their façades, are increasingly subject to regulations intended to minimize energy loss and ensure thermal comfort. As a result, we often inhabit hermetically sealed rooms with a uniform temperature, without being able to feel changes in the weather and seasonal conditions.

The architecture of the French duo Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal offers a radical counter-approach to this climatic claustrophobia. The houses they design contain integrated outdoor areas modeled on the winter garden—spaces that are open to the climate, transparent, and permeable. Lacaton&Vassal pursue this approach at different scales in both new construction and in transforming existing buildings. Their projects, designed to work with rather than against the climate, take into account daily and seasonal temperature variations due to the direct heat of the sun’s rays or the freshness of the evening. They let in gentle breezes or dry winds, making it possible to sleep outside under clear night skies, or use textile shades to provide shelter from the midday sun.

This direct connection to our climatic environment led Lacaton&Vassal to rethink the concept of the façade. Instead of closing off the house with a wall, they add to it a habitable spatial layer consisting of a winter garden equipped with large sliding elements and thermal protection curtains, creating a dynamic and adaptable insulation of several layers. Living becomes a continuous movement in a new kind of space between the inside and the outside.

This book is the first scientific study of the thermal performance of winter gardens in residential construction, showing their potential and effectiveness via selected projects of Lacaton&Vassal: from their first house, Latapie, to a recently completed apartment and office tower in Geneva. Complementary essays trace the historical development of conservatories, and the architects share their personal motivations for exploring this particular typology and their long experience with it.