Albi Town House

This project in the city of Albi, known for the artist Toulouse-Lautrec and also for being the centre of the Cathars, has been quite fascinating.
The main structure fronting a very narrow alley built around the 12th century was added to from behind, perhaps 160 years ago thus creating different interior levels.
The red brick is of the ancient roman style found also at Toulouse and other southern cities, flat and large some of which had become brittle with age.

The client wished to have four bedrooms, studio on the ground floor along with a utility room and shower room. A large kitchen which would be the meeting point and a salon with a terrasse looking over the roofs to Albi cathedral, lots of permits required here !!!!

The story unfolds.


The house had not been lived in for 15 years and was totally derelict, I also wished to change the layout, create a new stair well, install underfloor heating on the ground floor.
Most of the ceilings were pulled down and all stud walls, were ripped out ; plus the three sections of stairs, however, we did find some excellent surprises along with the other side of the coin.

The kitchen is actually on the second floor there being 4 levels.
Here we have the beauty of a very high ceiling with two stunning oak beams ( all of which had been hidden by plaster). The floor was solid and clad in old Tomettes ( terra -cotta tiles)
We cut the tremis ( stair well) and retained the existing stair well to mount to the salon above, the high passage links the old and new sections of the batimentgiving access to two bedrooms and a loo.
The client wished to have a bespoke kitchen in undressed oak with a work top in zinc. The first time that I have worked with this medium, in France we are fortunate enough to have highly qualified and serious artisans.
The main facade facing the old alley is curved, in fact all the walls are out of line, adding to the character.

This photo taken in the kitchen shows the flow of the stairs which were built from start to finish by an artisan here at Albi. Most of the work was completed at the workshop, however, by the nature of the structure there was a lot of fitting, two months work.

Here we have mounted the stairs to the salon, before, this was a haven for the pigeons !!
We retained the old floor, renovated the roof but using the old beams/charpente.
The wood stove is placed between two cloisons/studwalls using special fire proof plasterboard.
The shelves are in 5cm thick oak, same artisan who built the kitchen, the boxes are a design feature from the client. From this level one can look down to the ground floor, quite interesting.

To build the terrasse we removed the rotten roof of the (recent) structure , we then built the supporting framework for the terrasse and renewed the roof using reclaimed tiles laid on new. The view looks towards the cathedral, the largest brick structure in the world.

Terrasse again, showing another view, I love curved beam supports, not being a great fan of straight lines !
The terrasse roof was mated on to the original from the ridge thus respecting the pitch again using reclaimed Provancal tiles.

Stairs leading down, my first in steel, having built more than 36 in various woods, to me the stairs are crucial to the beauty of the house.

Studio looking up towards street level. Here we had to dig out to create enough height for underfloor heating, the arch required to be reinforced by building another below, the stairs here built in Roman brick, to the left the utility room using steel to harmonise with the stairs, and there we have it, a great chantier, a big thank you to my French clients.