Corn is usually thought of as a foodstuff, rather than a building material. Putting an inspired spin on traditional corn drying structures found in the Alsace region, St. André-Lang Architectes built this beautiful 20 square-meter pavilion and housing prototype using wood and corn in Muttersholtz, a village and nature reserve in the north-east of France.
Winner of the Archi<20 design competition and completed with a small budget of 7000€ (US $8,697), "Tourner autour du Ried" (Turn around Ried) has a circular form that allows for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Anchored around a central light shaft, the architects note that
In contrast with the grandiose scale of the landscape, the interior space is organized around a patio. Heart of protected living space, open or closed depending on the season, it allows local reeds and tall grass to penetrate the house; placed into the abyss of Ried, nature is closely related to the life of man.
The interior layout is generated by the path of the sun as it proceeds through the day, and is linked with a single bench on the building's perimeter that formally adapts itself to different functions that are designated in different areas (much like traditional Mongolian yurts).
For instance, the entrance and bedroom is found at the structure's northern, low-hanging and more "night-like" section. The eastern section hosts the work area. On the other hand, the social area is designated at the southern end, where the roof slopes more openly upward to shelter daytime activities.
Most striking is the corn cob-insulated facade (which we assume can be emptied and refilled once the corn gets suitably dried). Covered with a metallic mesh, ArchDaily describes the facade as both contextually aesthetic and pragmatic:
The facade, beside operating as the partition between the inside and the outside, becomes functional and takes on a new dimension: inspired by the corn dryers in the Alsace plains, it allows the cob storage for drying. Changing along with the seasons, the facade blurs the immediate reading of the object, almost erasing the pavilion itself.
Though we're not sure on how well corn might actually insulate when used in this manner, this distinctive pavilion nevertheless cleverly manages to synthesize form and function with the particularities of the Ried region -- transforming corn into something habitable and yet also very meaningful. More over at Archi<20 (in French) and St. André-Lang Architectes.