Atelier Zéro Carbone Architectes
Text taken from a conference at the biomimicry and the architecture in January, 2017.

Marine Jacques-Leflaive was contacted for the project " The Cellar of the Egg " created in 2013 in Puligny-Montrachet. We decide to present you this text as" the philosophy of the agency " because it reflects completely the ethics exploited for all the projects AZCA.


I pilot with my spouse an agency of architecture of eight people to Nuits-Saint-Georges. While waiting for the arrival of all these extraordinary materials which are announced in the future, I already try hard to compose with the existing, that is I try to use the most natural possible material to realize buildings

Among the buildings we created, I am going to present you the example of a cellar we implanted in Burgundy near Beaune. The principle is to get closer as far as possible to characteristics of a buried cellar, with 90 % of humidity and near 13°C all year long, what constitutes the ideal conditions for the preservation and the blooming of the wine. Yet, we noticed that in certain sectors of the Burgundy, the groundwater was too close to plan buried cellars. As a result, sheds were built with important very energy-consuming air conditionings fossil.

This is the reason why a wine grower contacted us to ask us to build a cellar which would offer the same "specifications" as the buried cellar. We thus designed an above-ground, passive cellar and without air conditioning. To do it, we went to search the natural materials surrounding by trying to join them in a most clever way as possible.

One of the difficulties of the project held exactly in the unstable character of the living matter. The wine is so sensitive that the slightest organoleptic deviation, that is a disruptive chemical compound in the atmosphere, can perturb it and confer it what we call the "cork taint". These troublemakers are named the TCA ( trichloroanisole ), which we find in materials having undergone on the base an atmospheric, landed or aquatic pollution. However, the natural materials are exactly the ones which are the most exposed to all these pollutions because as living matter, they tend to absorb these pollutants and to restore them in the buildings.

In this case, the ground was very restricted, 9 meters wide for 18 meters long. We created a vault, two doors there allowing to link with the existing cellars and which had been built in the 60s. The vault in question is inspired by Nubian vaults. As architects, we wished to reach an esthetic solution while being structurally interesting and by working on the principle of the golden section. The vault takes back the plan of Ptolémée and the proportions of the golden section. This shape in egg allows energetically to raise wines in better cosmo-telluric conditions, that is we are going to give to the wine the capacity to enter into a relationship better with the sky and the earth.

Blind tastings were organized between wines stemming from existing cellars and those who were settled in this Cellar of the Egg. A notable difference from the point of view of the oenologists emerges from it.

The main materials are the wood as regards the structure, the straw for the insulation and the earth for the internal finish and the thermal slowness. We did not obviously choose a straw full of pesticides such as we find there too often in our conventional farmings. We preferred to get closer to a farmer pioneer regarding biodynamics and extremely in good conscience with compared to the alive. As for the wood, we opted for a structure which didn’t use glue at all. We used for it a method said about some "massive wood reconstituted by nailing", which consists in taking boards of natural wood by nailing them every 50 millimeters to obtain big arcs which are going to form the structure of the Cellar of the Egg.

As the straw reached us in the form of bundles but not of boots, we settled it under a shed before unwinding it in sloping fields to tie it up.

A board allowed us to analyze each of the materials in terms of holding of the TCA to validate them before their installation.

It took us four months to find a craftsman capable of conceiving foundations in the old-sahioned stone but the standards and the DTU eventually discouraged us. We thus had to resolve to pour concrete longrines.

Working paths are of Burgundy stone. The ground is not isolated, the principle being to get back the freshness of the groundwater to keep the cellar at a constant level of freshness all year long.

I wished to use the cork for the insulation to take advantage of its link with the groundwater but it became almost impossible to find of the cork which does not arise from cork oaks artificially increased by means of pesticides. Thus we used of the stony foam instead.

A filter brake / vapor was provided on wooden boxes once these put, knowing that the main enemies of the straw are humidity and cold. This is a plastic membrane but we really had no other choices. We however insured it to find a membrane without coat of aluminum.

The brick of earth believed in foot of walls plays a role of "thermal phase shift" in the sense that she allows the freshness stemming from the groundwater to accumulate and to be restored when he makes a little more warmly or fresher.
Reed panels were placed over the vault. These panels are of use as support to the filler of earth planned for the finish and which allows to play the same role as the bricks for the phase shift.

The outside bardage is painted in ochre, with a painting composed of linseed oil, flour, soap of Marseille, of water and red ochre. The vault constituted by sixteen layers allows us to obtain a passive building, simple and only built in natural materials. Besides, the building does not absolutely consume fossil energy (nor of renewable energy moreover because it does not simply need an energy).We also added contact breakers of electromagnetic fields which allow the cellar not to undergo radiations when the light is switched off.

We also added contact breakers of electromagnetic fields which allow the cellar not to undergo radiations when the light is switched off.

The cellar was delivered in September, 2013 and was immediately able to welcome its first harvest-team.Exchanges with the hearing

Question of the hearing

Beyond the implementation of this cellar which you have just described us, have you also projects of school, day-nursery or others which would join the same type of reflections?


We are a small team, so that we have still not a very vast panorama of projects. At the moment we were requested on cases of cellars and storage places. We have so many projects of rehabilitation of type "rare bird" with a little bit singular housing but it is true as I would like very much being contacted for a project of school because childhood and wine are the same matter: it is necessary to take the biggest care.

Question of the hearing

I was very interested in the presentation on the cellar of the egg. I wish to know if the combination earth/straw is used from now on in a systematic way by your cabinet, knowing that this combination seems particularly satisfactory in terms of circular economy and of duration of the life cycle of buildings.


I belong to architects' generation where this type of combination is more and more used. We take advantage of the work of the pioneers there, that is it is especially the architects of the previous generation that felt most great difficulties, so financially in their agencies as in terms of development of all these combinations. We have in our agency an architect who became a specialist of the constructions in earth and with which we try to lead experiences while remaining extremely basic in our approach. This does not prevent us from finding very interesting innovations, what shows good that this domain is promised to a very fast development if we know how to promote our advances.

Question of the hearing

Could not the biomimicry establish the beginning of the break about which spoke Madam NORMAND early in the afternoon to raise the brakes which exist even as well on the town planning as on the construction and to reach that the Cellar of the Egg gets back its stone base?


If the biomimicry has to constitute the front door to validate a constructive system so ancestral, then we can only be delighted at it. We would already have to allow us to try and to innovate, knowing that very few options are authorized except the concrete. We have nevertheless as well the desire as materials even a few budgets but we are surrounded by rules.

Question of the hearing

Have you already experience feedback on the renovation of built former classics or classified in sustainable insulation?


We each time try to experiment new systems ofinsulation “perspirants”, i.e. which do not apply abrake/vapor and which make so that the stone is removed the structure from neither in its naturalhygroscopy, nor in anything of other. We alreadyconceived this manner three systems ofecological rehabilitation of which I think that they could be used to us as examples for thecontinuation. Especially, these systems enable usto avoid resorting to the metal framework or theglass wool filling. We thus manage to carry outwood fibre insulations with ground completion,here an experience feedback of almost five or sixyears and no special damage met. Thesesystems imply however to reconsider all thenetworks inside the restoration since it is not any more question of making them pass by interiordoubling.

photo : Alexis Doré

Jean Louis & Andrée Trapet

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10 rue Crébillon
21700 Nuits Saint Georges