When architects Pierre and François Voirin came on board to renovate an unusual 500-square-foot apartment in Paris’s Charonne-Bastille neighborhood, it was in fact two separate apartments. The spaces were not only small in square footage, but in height too, leaving a claustrophobic feeling even once the two separate apartments were combined. The property’s owner bought it without knowing what might be found above the ceiling, but thankfully it ended up being the space’s saving grace. The false ceiling was removed, five extra feet of height were revealed.
“With its sloping roof, the space on the top floor of this building from around 1900 is beautiful and completely usable,” explain the architects in charge of the renovation. This additional space on the top floor was a pleasant surprise for the brothers, who immediately seized the opportunity to “do something very, very beautiful.” They began by installing skylights to bring in plenty of light and, when it came to the floor plan, restructured the space with a library partition that separates the bedroom and bathroom from the living area.
The architects’ goal was to locate the living room, office, dining room, and kitchen in the rectangular plan as one piece, preserving the beautiful timber structure and other elements such as the original floor tiles. “The distribution was clear to us and the recess in the wall was perfect to accommodate the kitchen and the bathroom, and it also allowed us to create the symmetry with the two doors that immediately define the space,” the architects explain. “The library came from the idea of separation. The library wall plays on the idea of a hidden room, of doors within shelves, not hidden but almost.” For them, placing the bedroom, dressing room, and bathroom behind this partition was an eminently architectural move, a study in transitions. This is a key theme of this apartment which recalls the multifunctional furniture designed by architect Pierre Chareau in the 1920s.