Fifteen minutes from the centre of the French capital, Hauts-de-Seine is increasingly attracting people in search of calm, even while the area maintains its liveliness. This young art collector is one of these newcomers, having fallen in love with a three-level brick house that has been split into apartments. The structure, built around 1920, sits on a long and narrow site with a rear garden.
“The façade has interestingly subtle brick detailing and a slight industrial character, owing to a steel lintel that we had to remove and replace with a bigger one for the large new window,” says Konrad Steffensen, who co-founded Corpus Studio alongside Ronan Le Grand.
Despite the challenging shape of the plot, the vertical volume and sun exposure allow the interior spaces to be bathed in natural light. “When the client approached us, he was keen to maximise the potential of the house and upgrade its architectural fabric,” remembers Steffensen. “This was his simple and to-the-point brief.”
Throughout the process, the homeowner and his mother – an artist who helped him along the way – were open to the recommendations of the Corpus Studio team.
“While we love working on Haussmann apartments – which we get a lot of in Paris – it was interesting to have a project where we could have fun playing with the architectural structure,” confesses Steffensen.
Spread over 75 square metres, the triplex is organised with one function per level-sleeping, living and eating while a vertical shaft connects the three floors. Corpus Studio made several structural modifications, some of which were more challenging than others, to bring to life this project, which took a year and a half, including planning approvals.
“In a very Gordon Matta-Clark way, we opened holes in the floors, walls and ceilings, making way for new windows and the central staircase,” says Steffensen. “We dedicated a lot of time to thinking about everything as a whole- from the major architecture works down to the decorative details”.
Drawing their inspiration from several sources, such as the narrow townhouses of London and early century Parisian artist studios, as well as the work of Italian architect Carlo Scarpa and Austrian architect Adolf Loos, the Corpus Studio team took care of the spatial arrangements as much as they did the effects of light and shadow, and crafted the overall palette with a focus on neutral tones for the architectural finishes.
“The materials stand out on their own with their beautiful natural hues, creating a timeless atmosphere,” says Steffensen. Touches of bold colour were added through decoration, such as the yellow accent in the kitchen that provides energy to the homeowner every morning; the mustard velvet sofa that brings a glamourous feel to the living room; or the terracotta Lelièvre curtains in the bedroom that combine with the ebony Pierre Chareau floor lamp and the beige wool bouclé Pierre Frey armchair from Pierre Augustin Rose. Zellige toles, steel, aluminium, Douglas and oak wood, marmorino, tadelakt plaster and lime wash paint are some of the materials that bring together feelings of both rawness and warmth. Iconic pieces of furniture and lighting by Ennio Chiggio, Kalou Dubus, Dominique Zimbacca, Christopher Boots, Thomas Duriez, Martin Goerg and Matti Suuronen- among others- adorn these spaces where nothing feels excessive.
“We wanted to shape an environment that conveys subtlety and complexity- not too clean but raw with sophistication,” expresses Steffensen. “We enjoy creating poetic spaces.”
Photography by Christophe Coenon