Arbohaus (Cantercel, France)

english | deutsch | français

history and background

Cantercel has been founded in 1989 as an experimental site for architecture. Jean Pierre Campredon, architect and Professor at the Ecole Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris and Annick Lombardet, architect decided to invest into the development of a natural site. It was supposed to be developed according to the example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture to create a experimental site for architecture and a center of education and exchange between architects, engineers and builders. After years of research, the site of Cantercel has been chosen on the highlands of Larzac in 700 m above sealevel 60 km North West from Montpellier and 20 km from Lodève.

1989 to 1993

Sommercamp 1989

The first summer camp on the 150 ha large site was the beginning of the exploration of the terrain, which continued the following summers with camps organised on different sectors of the area. The site was called Cantercel, which means Chant, Terre (earth) and Ciel (sky) which are the essentials of the project. The Association "Sens Espace Europe" (SEE) was founded to organize the activities in Cantercel. The site was connected to the civilisation by a new road and the junction to electricity and water.

1994 to 1999

Werkhalle mit Architekturbüro

The first permanent building was a 1.000 m2 large workshop. In summer, students had the opportunity to improve their practical experience. More buildings like the open air kitchen and the workshops were built.


Alexander Römer (D) built the first light weight pavillon, a construction between tent and hut. The first permanent residential building was designed by Christoph Megard (F), Christian Luginbühl (CH), Caroline Frenette (Can) and Michael Flach (D). The idea was to build an experimental bioclimat house, which is nearly autonomius relative to the heating and water treatment.

1999 to 2010


The bioclimatic house “Arborescence” started to be built in 1989 following the principle of sustainability. It is essentially made of wood, earth, stones and other natural building materials, which doesn’t affect the environment. The energy for heating is provided by sun and biomass. Thanks to the dry toilettes we can precious drinking water can be saved and compost is transformed to fertile earth. In the meantime the house was distinguished by different awards for innovation and sustainable construction and has been largely visited and published.


Terasse mit Holzboden und geheizten Badefass

Since 2011 the exteriors around the house are finished including a wooden hot tab to take hot baths and to be available for those who are seeking for silence and nature. Besides an organic architecture and a excellent indoor quality, a divine silence, a view from the roof to the Mediterranean, fresh summer nights and starry nights are part of this particular house. A ground of 150 ha in the Southern part of France in the middle of the land of wine and Roquefort offers natural beauty in proximity and endless possibilities for excursion.

2012 to 2013


The central part of the summer pavilion is an open and covered space, where in 2013 an autonomously supplied field kitchen will be installed. The refrigerator and the hot plate work with biogas, electricity is supplied by photovoltaic and the water is filtered and comes out of a rain water tank. The two lateral sleeping boxes are made of cross laminated wood panels ensuring a healthy indoor quality and the flavour of wood. The transparent facades are filled up with pin cones and reed. Therefore two new sleeping rooms emerged and could be use in summertime independently or in combination with the house.