Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas. December 2010

Along with Christmas comes very cold weather and the final opportunity to work outside until the return of the warmer weather. The exterior staircase and the two balconies to the small Apartment are completed and the focus changes to interior matters.
Meanwhile across Europe heavy snow brings travel disruption but smiles to the faces of those lucky enough to be spending Christmas and New Year Skiing in Meribel.

Cold days and sunshine

Exterior of small Apartment

The form work of the stairs to small Apartment

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The small one. November 2010

The wrapping has all gone now revealing the exterior finish in all its glory. It really does stand out amid the older buildings but the woodwork finishes remind passers by that this is not a totally new building.Snow falls and the focus turns to interior work.

The greatest changes are being made in the small apartment building, the most impressive being the building of the amazing Oak staircase. The small apartment is four storeys high containing just one room on each floor, a small space which is designed as a real couples retreat. This is very different from the studio apartments more frequently on offer in French ski resorts for couples. In addition to the Oak staircase the apartment has two balconies and a cosy bathroom nestled in the roof space.
Staircase small apartment

Saturday, 23 October 2010

A layer is removed. October 2010

The coverings start to come off the building to reveal the final finish. It looks so "new" hopefully it will settle into the surroundings over time.
After some final adjustments the window coverings are put in place. The wooden slats are sure to cause controversy being slightly on the unusual side. The idea was out of the need to cover windows, some of which are quite large and the desire to return the building to a more original look. The Architect has used the idea before on a commercial building further down the valley, an impressive YouTube clip was used to persuade us. We love them but as I just said they will, and have, caused controversy. Well while people are talking about you they are leaving others alone.

Not your average shutters

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

It's snowing. September 2010

Just as the Chalet starts to look like a Chalet the mountains suddenly start to look like a ski resort. From sunny and warm one day to a distinct drop in temperature the next followed by snow falling on the mountain tops and sleet even as low as Albertville. The air is suddenly filled with the smell of wood smoke as fires are lit to keep warm at night.

First snow seen from Bride les Bains
The differences between renovation in Australia and renovation in France start to show when it comes to selecting fittings and tiles for the bathrooms. Between the two countries there is more than a language difference which is made plain by the quizzical looks on the faces of the Tilers when I try to explain using the same tiles on the floor as on the wall. You don't need a shared language to know they think I am crazy. Time will tell!
The building looks like a gift waiting to be opened covered by a protective layer to enable the Plasterers to do their work. The villagers have become more inquisitive now it is covered and stop to stare and often pass judgement on progress being made.
All wrapped up

Friday, 17 September 2010

The secrets inside. September 2010

One section of the Oak staircase in the large apartment

Looking into the dining area from the staircase
As the work outside continues the pace inside picks up with important elements like stairs being added and interesting elements such as an alcove for the fire appearing. The majority of internal walls are complete so for the first time bathrooms look like bathrooms and built in wardrobes are more than lines on the floor.
The Chalet design leans away from a traditional Chalet interior which is often dominated by wood usually Pine stained a peculiar shade of orange. Having said that, wood does play a part in the Chalet interior with French Oak being used for stairs, windows and selected doors. Observing the Carpenter hand cut and finish skirting boards to perfection gives a real appreciation of craftsmanship.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Windows give the building a face. August 2010

With the arrival of the window frames in August the building starts to develop its own character. The thickness of the original walls means that many of the windows are deeply set which adds interest. The windows, doors and much of the interior are finished in French Oak which will age gracefully. French windows are designed to open inwards which makes cleaning the outside of windows a much easier task!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

It starts to look like a real building. July 2010

The new roof starts to take shape
As summer continued so did rapid progress. By the third week of July the supporting structure for the roof was complete. Although the original barn had an effective roof the whole structure had to be replaced as many of the supporting beams were rotten. Building a roof in the Alps is no simple task, the weight of snow is considerable so strength is vital. Each roof also has to be equipped with "snow catchers" which are designed to prevent large slabs of snow sliding off the roof when the temperature rises.To improve light inside the building the design incorporated velux roof windows and sun tubes which both required accommodation in the roof without impacting the integrity.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Moving up. July 2010

July arrived and most people were thinking of their summer holidays, the builders however were making the most of good weather and moving up the building almost to roof level. The main walls were completed and signs of interior infrastructure appeared. The vision of the Architect came into reality for the first time as rooms started to be recognisable.
The balcony framework is slotted into place

Almost at roof level the work continues with an alarming lack of safety equipment

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

In a tight spot. June 2010

With the demolition work complete it was time for the building team to become conscious about their weight. As the barn had never been blessed with utilities the intricate job of laying pipework and wiring began. With original walls in some areas 1 metre wide space was at a premium which called for some nimble work.
Once complete the concrete arrived and the barn began to take shape once again.
Working in very tight spots

Concrete arrives

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Things get worse. May 2010

In definitely a case of things getting worse before they get better the construction required a large amount of demolition. Although the barn had beautiful arched ceilings at the ground floor level local planning rules required the creation of a series of garage areas which involved destroying the beautiful stone arches. As with any old building demolition can uncover surprises, luckily our excellent building team took everything in their stride. 
The walls come down

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

In the begining: April 2010

The end of the 2009/2010 ski season in Meribel France was the start of a new life for an old stone barn in the centre of Meribel Les Allues. Despite occupying a prime position the 16th Century building had fallen into disrepair and was in need of a serious renovation to launch its new life as self catered Ski Apartments.
Architects RAS were engaged and the planning process with the local Marie ran for 18 months, finally as the last snow melted the barn stood in its original form for the last time.
The original 16th Century Barn