Lucien Carrel lives and works in the Swiss canton of Fribourg, which, together with the canton of Vaud, is well known for a particular type of roofing that is made by layering shingles cut out from spruce wood. Lucien learned the technique from his master Camille Charrière. The wood is selected in winter with the collaboration of foresters who assist him in choosing the logs to be cut, which are mainly felled in the Trême Valley. “Choosing logs in winter allows me to decompress after eight months of intensive laying, which I spend on top of roofs, sitting on a special small seat. There I lay out four spruce shingles, like a card player unveiling his game, before nailing them one by one with the help of my hammer.”Read the full interview
As a young child I was fascinated by the majestic wood-shingle roofs you can see in the region. I love this job’s connection with nature, and the fact it is both humble and noble at the same time. And I also love the human connections you make in the artisanal world.What was your first tavillionnage job?
It was at the Ballenberg open-air museum, which is a private foundation aiming to collect, promote, preserve and perpetuate the traditional rural architecture of all regions of Switzerland. It was a wonderful opportunity!
It’s a job that requires great expertise in the handling of wood. It’s hard and repetitive in winter, and in summer it keeps you away from your family for weeks. But it's one of the most rewarding jobs too! I am a perfectionist and I leave nothing to chance.How do you feel about tradition and innovation?
In this region, the craft of the tavillonneur is synonymous with tradition. Innovation, on the other hand, sets in despite itself as technologies arrive in our homes.