An architect with an eye for green design and a spirit nourished by the earth creates spaces that save more than the planet.

By Amanda Bedgood • Photos by Robin May

Monday, June 3, 2013

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Martha Harmon's Crowley home, designed by Eddie Cazayoux, was created with sustainability in mind.

Eddie Cazayoux’s house is more than a home — it’s a way of living. It’s about far more than the walls (although they are, in part, extraordinary bousillage handcrafted by the man himself) or the materials (most salvaged) used to construct this respite from the world.

“We spent time here,” the architect says of the acres in Breaux Bridge near the Bayou Teche purchased and lived on for two decades before he began building. “We did the research. Architecture is already there, and you have to discover it.”

The man who helms EnvironMental Design is a retired UL professor with more than a job of making things “green.” He lives it — from inside the comfortable walls of his 3,200-square-foot home to the pond filled with bream and bass to his garden, greenhouse and workspaces.

More than 30 years ago the Cazayouxes purchased the property thick with trees and shade and moved an old house onto the land where they lived for 22 years as Cazayoux determined how best to build the home. What resulted is a space that is energy efficient, often using the property of what the architect calls “suckation” that moves air naturally to keep things cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Two of the walls in the living area are made of bousillage —  a mixture of mud and Spanish moss used by French settlers in the 18th century. That bousillage is the result of more than 500 man hours, and while it serves to give the space eclectic warmth unlike anything seen in most modern homes, it’s also functional.

“If it’s too humid it absorbs, and if it’s dry it gives it up. The cracks come and go,” he says looking thoughtfully at the walls from a rocking chair in his living room.

RMay_130523_5368Spend much time on Cazayoux’s property and it’s easy to feel as much as see how he lives the green life. There is the drill pipe used as part of the construction along with materials salvaged from other projects from wood to wrought iron. But it is true Cazayoux often catches his dinner in the pond, the trees drooping with grapefruits, the slender sprigs signaling the hope his efforts to grow asparagus just may be fruitful one day (it’s a three-year process) — the walk to his talk about living green.

While there’s no doubt efforts to live a sustainable life are good for the planet, Cazayoux is proof that it’s something that’s just as good for the soul: “Who we are is connected to nature and the environment. Air conditioning and TV takes us away from that. Architecture can take you back to that. It’s a life that is a lot richer.”

It’s the kind of life clients like Martha Harmon seek. The woman who owns a greenhouse business in Crowley asked Cazayoux to create a sustainable home for her after seeing a mutual friend who lives entirely off the grid (even using collected rain water in lieu of city water).

“She said I want to be able to ride out a hurricane in it,” Cazayoux says of the design.

It’s a sleek creation with a lot of light and a modern vibe. In some ways it is what many would envision when they think green design. And while it’s certainly the sort of structure Cazayoux can and does design, he wants people to understand green design is not married to a style.

“You try to figure out what nature is trying to do and do that,” he says. “When you design against nature you spend energy. ...

“It’s not just a sustainable house but a sustainable life.”

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