It is amazing for me to think that the relationship between an architect and his (or her) client can go a long way into the end result of a project. Push an idea too hard on a client and you risk losing it, give in to client wishes too easily and you risk the integrity of the end result. The line between client and “creative” has always been a blur for me.
I have worked with architects that believe that their ideas are the only ones worth listening too and dismiss ideas and input from other sources. I have also worked with architects who believe that the client is all-powerful and if he wants a 5m high statue of a red duck in his garden (true story) then fuck it, let him have it!
I believe it truly comes down to communication. The way a thought or an idea is communicated, be it orally, or graphically. The key is good communication. Therefore it kind of sucks to know that 90% of clients you meet have already assigned you the label “dick” before you even enter the room. If all architects could strive for better communication maybe we wouldn’t have this… reputation.
That being said, a great client is always a godsend! and this project is a result of a good client relationship. The project is that of the extension of a town house in a historic sector of the town of Saint-Maur des Fosses. Looking back at old maps, the house dates back to 1930, so integrating the new extension with not only the building itself, but also the surrounding buildings was the real game.
The thing about working with old buildings, is sure, the architecture that can come out of it, is new and exciting, if done the right way, obviously! but there are the technical aspects of such projects. Now some might say that it’s too complicated etc…but i LOVE those moments of trying to find solutions! In this particular case it’s how the new roof will attach itself onto the existing one and the fragile nature of the ground underneath.
The project is going to be phased in 2 parts. The first phase of the project aims to create the initial extension and the second phase pertains to the conversion of the cellar inot habitation and the creation of a summer garden, dug into the ground, like most of the housing projects in paris these days. Cant go up, so go DOWN!
The façade is a mix of large, dark windows that find their harmony with the overlaying wooden elements. The volume is restricted in height and therefore quite square. The project aims to give the building some height, by overstating the verticals in the windows. The addition of a second, smaller volume in the form of a pergola, ties the project together. The pergola invites rhythm and fragmentation that is much needed in the square nature of the project.