Earlier this year, the commune of Nogent-le-Rotrou in northern France gained a new social housing development that’s not only an inspiring example of beautiful affordable housing, but is also a model for eco-friendly architecture. Designed by Paris-based architectural firm NZI Architectes, the project comprises thirteen gable-roofed homes built from prefabricated timber wall components with straw insulation. Separated into three blocks, the houses are arranged in staggered rows and feature varying roof heights and finishes to create visual appeal.

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wood and straw houses surrounded by greenery with blue skies above

Spanning an area of 11,840 square feet, the homes in the social housing development were constructed in a factory off-site. Prefabricating the walls in a controlled warehouse environment not only minimized construction waste, but also helped save time and money. Since the panels were relatively lightweight, the construction team was able to forgo a heavy-duty crane and instead used light lifting equipment to assemble the homes.

Related: Cambridge’s first co-housing development fosters sustainable living

interior of home with white walls and large windows
aerial view of housing community

“By opting for the construction of wood & straw, biosourced construction is favored, which limits the use of unsustainable resources,” explain the architects, who also used straw for insulation due to the material’s durability and effectiveness. “The constructive advantage of wood and straw construction compared to the traditional wooden structure and MOB wood frame walls is the possibility of complete prefabrication of the wall. The low weight of the wooden structure and straw allows the production of large areas of factory walls.”

close up of exterior of home with light and dark colored buildings

The thirteen houses are grouped into three blocks—named Block A, Block B, and Block C—with four to five houses each. Blocks A and C are identical mirror images of one another while the central block B is slightly set back from the other two blocks. The houses in each block are arranged in staggered rows to create opportunities for green space. The minimalist, light-filled interiors embrace views of the green space with large windows and tall ceilings.

grass and trees adorn the areas in between the structures

+ NZI Architectes

Images © Juan Sepulveda Grazioli