Tucked away in the back of a courtyard somewhere in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, a bright and breezy family home hides in plain sight. It’s hard to believe that this raw contemporary space was once a crumbling block of dingy apartments, complete with fungus-infested walls and collapsed flooring. Nevertheless, thanks to Alia Bengana and Capucine de Cointet Architecte, this Parisian abode now gets to enjoy a new lease of life. Let’s take a look.
“The objective was to transform this building at the back of the courtyard into a home for a couple with young children. The owners do not live in this house all year round and were very open to the creation of open and fluid spaces.” — Alia Bengana and Capucine de Cointet Architecte
As renovations go, this project is perhaps one of the most impressive we’ve seen on the site due to the total deterioration of the original building.
“Given the presence of house fungus (mushrooms that had attacked all of the building’s wooden structure) in particular, we had to entirely recreate the building, only keeping the outer building envelope, which was remodeled as well,” explains the architects.
“The ground floor was very dark. It seemed obvious to us to rework the vertical space by redistributing the floor levels and sliding the light to the lowest level.” Construction began in May 2016 and took 8 months and 400,000 euros (roughly US$445,230) to complete.
A Welcome Change
Now a comfortable 120 meter square family home spread over four levels, the space is completely unrecognizable. In addition to the three above ground levels, the vaulted basements contain a laundry room and multi-purpose space that can be used as a game room or home cinema.
“Our main focus was letting as much light as possible in the house while still maintaining the privacy of the residents,” share the architects.
The space is restricted to just the one facade of windows. As such, certain levels were opened with half-height floors in order to make the most of the light. At the same time, all existing windows were replaced with ones without a central solid part so as to increase the penetration of light.
Finally, a zenithal glass roof is a privacy-friendly way of cheating exposure to the sunshine.
Rough Around the Edges
Interiors-wise, the aesthetic spotlights raw, simple materials. A solid oak staircase, textured gritstone wall and sleek metal railings are just some of the design gems we spot.
“We kept the wall in its patchwork state with its different additions and multiple materials. It’s a witness to the history of this building.”
We Have This Thing With Floors
One of our favorite design elements of this home is the decorative hexagonal floor tiles. In a contemporary space, geometric-themed tiles are just enough to add interest without straying too far from sleek and simple.
The same floor tiles can be found in the kitchen and bathroom, though with differing color schemes. This is a nice and subtle way to ensure consistency throughout the separate spaces.
“We were fortunate to have very good relationships with clients who became friends. We are convinced that a project is better if it reflects a harmony between clients and architects, and especially if we succeed in developing a relationship of trust from the outset.”
Beyond technical specifications, the owners of this home stressed the importance of an eco-approach to design. To this end, the architectural team sought to include a range of environmentally-friendly features.
For instance, the building was insulated in order to cut down on heating costs. However, this was done from the outside in order not to remove any living space. Meanwhile, recreating the floors from scratch allowed for the easy installation of ducts for heat recovery ventilation.
Last but not least, planters were buried in order to provide enough soil to allow plants to grow. These will ultimately cover the facade along the wires strung up to the top of the building.
A New Lease of Life
From wreck to wow, this little Paris corner has had quite the journey. What we love the most is how the contemporary aesthetic doesn’t completely overwrite the building’s history. Yes, this space was desperately in need of an update, but that’s no reason to disinherit its past.
Reflecting on the design, the owners of this space appreciate how this home has become a dynamic place. Overall, architects and owners alike agree that it’s a joyful home that brings the whole family together.