This project by Nathalie Eldan Architecture is a complete renovation of a 27 sqm duplex located in the 11th district of Paris. It is situated in a two storey townhouse building on Charonne Street next to Bastille. The street was part of a former Charonne village where handcrafting and wood crafting where the dominating activities, besides being a vast territory dedicated to the cultivation of vineyards and wine making. The neighbourhood was annexed to Paris in 1860. The building alone stands within the Cité du Couvent which after the French Revolution became a cotton factory. Today Rue de Charonne is a very lively street composed of many shops, restaurants and bars.
The apartment was reconfigured with two extra large birchwood furniture units integrating a diversity of functional devices. The design approach was to provide high functionality for living while offering the maximum of space; make the most of every square meter. This included having as much as comfort as possible for the night/private time. Since the sleeping area was the most important one, the bed was elevated on a pedestal. An area dedicated to relaxation, sleep and intimacy. This approach refused any folding, rolling, or dismantling bed. It’s presence is permanent in the room. The extra large birchwood unit on the upper floor works as an active wall in a dual configuration, vertically for daytime usage such as kitchen appliances, laundry, storage, tv, and multimedia, and horizontally for night use with its own discrete storage pockets. The active wall was built floor to ceiling following the roof’s original slope. The second extra large furniture unit on the ground floor absorbs the water tank and at the same time is used for first hand storage, such as shoes, coats and suitcases.
The light crosses the apartment entirely thanks to two large triple glazed windows allowing plenty of light to pour into the room. The entrance and bathroom are on the ground floor whereas the living space is on the upper floor. The bed standing on the pedestal can be separated by six woven wood sliding screens. This enables various configurations and hierarchy of privacy. When the screens are closed, reading, watching a movie, or having a nap turn the night area into a real urban cocoon. Open or closed the sliding screens dialogue playfully with the room and act like an elegant and subtle light box. This partition system makes the space flexible for different living scenarios. In addition to the screens, the elevation of the bed on a functional step helps making a distinction between the day and night area. The urban cocoon enjoys a North-West orientation, overseeing the pedestrian courtyard and keeping the distance with the street’s possible nocturnal disturbances.
The dominating textures in the duplex are raw birchwood for the extra large storage units and raw tender koto for the woven wood screens. The birchwood furniture panels were carefully selected in Charonne’s remaining wood workshops. Light grey porcelain stoneware tiles were applied on the floor and the light cantilever staircase was entirely made from steel.
The renovation fundamental constraints were the very tight budget and the deteriorated situation it was in. Moreover, the former display suffered from very low false ceiling panels, therefore one of the important operations included its complete demolition to reveal the room’s authentic height and volume. The roof’s slope was rediscovered as well as the existing wooden beams. As a result, the room widens up and reunites with its true personality.
Design and info © Nathalie Eldan Architecture
Images © David Foessel