Situated a few hundred metres from the cliffs of Paluel and not far from its nuclear power station, the Clos des Fées eco-village is an original development by the municipality of Paluel on the edge of the Normandy cliffs.
Sophie Bellest, the director, explains the secrets of this unique and magical place.
Clos des Fées eco-village
The name Clos des Fées has a lot to do with this, as it refers to the Electricity Fairy (a painting by Dufy in 1937).
Le Clos des Fées comprises 18 detached houses arranged around courtyards, 2 accommodation units and 3 artists’ studios. The scheme aims to achieve positive effects from both an ecological and a social point of view.
Fighting against the inward-looking mechanisms of closed neighbourhoods and the segregation of populations, the neighbourhood was conceived from the outset as a meeting point for generations, making the social dimension one of its three pillars in the concept of sustainable development.
The installation of a facility providing the district with a wider opening onto the surrounding area responds to economic concerns, which form the second pillar of sustainable development.
Finally, building with natural materials, using local skills if not local materials, and the natural water drainage system, are all part of eco-design and ecology, the third and final pillar of sustainable development.
Le Clos des Fées is made up of two distinct parts: a residential part, which is a continuation of the existing Éperon housing estate, and a garden part, which is a fundamental element in its appeal and economic appeal. A path marks the boundary between these two worlds; it is not an impassable barrier, just a line guaranteeing the peace and quiet of both.
The residential section comprises 18 thatched cottages. Following the example of traditional houses, their orientation has been designed to protect residents from the prevailing winds.
Their roofs use two materials. Thatch, which used to be widespread in the region, and zinc for the parts most exposed to the elements. These zinc roofs will also be fitted with solar thermal collectors for hot water production, which could not be installed on the thatch roofs. The walls of the house are timber-framed, a traditional material that is being reused in a modern way.
As far as thatch is concerned, a network of local craftsmen and entrepreneurs can be active in construction sectors with high ecological added value.
Water management is also environmentally friendly. The houses are not enclosed by fences, but by hedges and ditches that collect rainwater and carry it to the far end of the plot.
The interest of the gardens grows with time. The park is not made up of a single piece, but of several gardens: the park is divided into several green areas developing different themes. One garden illustrates the water cycle, while another evolves with the weather, changing its appearance according to how full its pond is, which varies according to rainfall. Another garden expresses the link with electricity generation, an activity that, along with agriculture, has been one of Paluel’s major vocations for nearly 30 years.
Open to the future
Despite its modest size, the Clos des Fées’ most notable feature is its openness to the future and to the local area. Together with his team, Didier Gaston, Mayor of Paluel, is keen to boost the cultural activities of the site.
Didier Gaston: I was elected 2 years ago. I want to turn it into a small cultural centre with different initiatives. Of course, there will always be exhibitions of different artists. I also want to make it a place of residence for artists who have a project lasting one or more months. They’ll be able to create their own project and then have their work exhibited once it’s finished.
Informations : Le Clos des Fées
24 Chemin des Falaises Hameau de Conteville 76450 Paluel.
Tel : 02 35 99 25 46
Chinese version : http://xhslink.com/CRunGj
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