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the Fustes

What is a fuste?

The fustiers build the fustes. Fustes are houses made of barrels. And the barrels grow in the forests...

Image by Daniel Seßler

A fuste is a dwelling built from raw tree trunks stacked, cut and crisscrossed to form a waterproof and solid wall. Each log is cut by hand so as to perfectly match the irregular shape of the one before it. This work requires great mastery of this particular material that is wood: a living, unstable, irregular, restrictive and demanding material. The main constraint is the shrinkage of the wood when drying, which will cause a change in the dimensions of the walls which must be taken into account during construction.

If log houses are illustrated above all by the architecture of Russia or Scandinavia and by the North American pioneer epic, we have forgotten that many regions of France have had this construction tradition for centuries. We find them in the Alps of course, in the north and in the south, where we are well aware of the Queyras barrels, alpine chalets or barns; but also in Landes, Agenais, Allier, Périgord, Franche-Comté, Morvan, Vosges.

The basic principle (crossing four barrels two by two, blocking them with a rough cut) appeared when man was able to make the tools necessary for felling trees, with the appearance of the axe. In France, construction techniques remained quite rudimentary for a long time. It was necessary to caulk the gaps between the trunks with moss or earth in order to waterproof the walls. Furthermore, this type of housing has been neglected, almost forgotten with the multiplication of men and industrial development, that of the peasant aspiration to realize through a stone house made to last the sustainability of a family on a well, that of the social ascension of a population aspiring to model its way of life on that of the urban bourgeoisie... It was not until the 1970s that a Canadian launched his "log building" school and brought a total modernization of the tools, techniques and design of these houses.

Today, the construction of logs is a very high-tech job, and the system of notching and joining the wood is perfectly precise, ensuring comfort and insulation in the home.

In Latin, stick, stakes

Was :

Part of a tree between the ground and the branches


Forest of tall trees

to the cleared barrels


Name given to constructions made of crossed shafts notched at the corners


Name given to the person who builds the barrels


An ecological habitat?

To the extent that the species used are local, where the transformation processes are energy-efficient and non-polluting, the construction of a log house is ecological. Cut not far from the site and minimally transformed, the use of raw tree trunks allows savings on transport and energy linked to the production of the base material. In addition, it allows the use of a renewable and often poorly valued French resource. The durability of a fuse over time is comparable to that of a masonry construction; some fuses are now more than 400 years old! The deforestation caused by construction is thus largely offset by sufficient regrowth time for the regeneration of the wooded heritage. As the walls are made up solely of these trunks, there is also a saving in materials, insulation products, lining, facing and other coverings.

The thermal insulation of the building could prove problematic (the thermal conductivity of wood is very average), and could lead to a significant expenditure of energy for heating, but the use of trunks of sufficient diameter and the care taken during construction, the sealing of the parts helps counter this problem. Furthermore, a fuse has a very positive carbon footprint. A 100 m2 barrel made of 25 cm diameter logs traps around 8 tonnes of CO2.

... with
grass on the roof

A 100% natural space, this type of roof reduces CO2 emissions while promoting oxygen production, increases humidity levels when it is very hot, has excellent acoustic insulation and many advantages thermal and insulating. Greening saves no less than 20 to 30% of energy and is sometimes even a real paradise for birds and biodiversity!

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