From afar, this quaint guesthouse seems like a pile of rubble — but take a closer look and you’ll find a tiny and cozy getaway with interiors of Douglas fir. London-based architectural firm Blee Halligan Architects designed the little building, named Mountain Rescue, as guest accommodations on the grounds of a historic watermill in the historical coastal region of Languedoc in southern France. The tiny, solar-powered structure was prefabricated off-site then transported on-site using a single box truck to install it among historic stone ruins.
Nestled within a wild and remote landscape and accessible only by an “unmade track,” the Mountain Rescue was designed to operate entirely off the grid and is powered by solar photovoltaic panels.
“The building sought to retain the beauty of the crumbling stone ruin by placing a separate insulated timber structure within it,” Blee Halligan Architects explained. “It was built entirely from Douglas Fir, with an Iroko structure, which was easily adaptable once on-site to suit the idiosyncrasies of the ruin’s stone walls.”
The collapsed host structure was also a major design influence and source for materials. The original clay roof tiles were salvaged and cleaned for reuse, while part of the existing building was completely rebuilt with back-fill to further tie the new construction to the site and create the appearance of ruins from the exterior. A large Douglas fir window wall replaces one of the collapsed walls and lets light into the bedroom while sheep’s wool was used for insulation throughout.
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The approach to the Mountain Rescue begins with a flat courtyard with a centrally placed shade tree. The doorway — which was salvaged — opens up the en suite bathroom and dressing room. The bedroom is in the next room and is heated with a wood-burning stove, which also heats the water in the bathroom. In contrast to the stone exteriors, the interiors are sheathed in unpainted timber.
Photography by Sarah Blee via Blee Halligan Architects