To me, sustainability means taking care of what we want to pass on to the next generation, and handing it down in the best possible shape. So when my parents gave me a piece of land – a former orchard in France that has been in the family since 1652 – I didn't see myself digging foundations and filling them with concrete to build my house.
In a general concern towards limiting the environmental impact of my construction, I wanted a small (but not tiny) house, well insulated, using renewable energies as well as durable materials. I wanted an open kitchen, large enough for a big table at the heart of my home, where family and friends could gather and enjoy good food and laughter as I cook.
I spent quite a bit of time exploring the possibilities available: I was initially drawn to Nordic concepts (we all have our biases ...) until I finally came across a nicely designed Italian concept for a not-so-tiny house that fit all my requirements.
The company makes these innovative houses in a factory before being flat-packed, transported by truck to any location and then “unfolded” in a few days. The concept was originally developed to build temporary villages for sporting events, or to quickly create first aid units after a natural disaster.
Reusable screw piles replace the traditional concrete foundations. So in theory, if my son wants to use this plot for another purpose later, he could re-fold the house, extract the screw piles and re-use both somewhere else. In other words, he would pick the fruit of the land and care for the “orchard” in a new sense – closing the loop.
All these arguments easily had me convinced. But it was also necessary to get this never-seen-in-France innovative concept accepted by my bank and the notoriously flexible ;) French administration. The year 2020 didn't make it easier, but the project is on track and the house should be delivered in early 2021.
I would say that all these years spent in the company made me curious about innovation, and not just the scientific kind. It opened my eyes to the need to make sustainable and respectful decisions today to preserve more for the next generation. Because of this, I’ve learned to explore and consider all options and become more aware of my own biases.
Working in a complex environment like Roche, I learned to seek simplicity and reusability because resources are ultimately finite. And this thinking helped provide me with the self-confidence required to lead such a complex project and to build, trust and get help from my network. And finally, I stuck to these values of perseverance while not letting rigid thinking or accepted norms stop me from accomplishing my goals.
My not-so-tiny house can be seen from both sides of a two-way avenue: Roche values influence choices I make in my private life, and from another angle, we – the employees – are the many building blocks bringing those values to life.