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vincent parreira converts 19th century photography studio into parisian apartments

In paris, architect vincent parreira has converted a 19th century photography studio into a pair of rooftop apartments. conceived as an ‘inhabited observatory’, the residences are situated at the top of an haussmannian building in the city’s opéra-madeleine district. the two contiguous duplex apartments have been configured for short term rental use, with bedrooms and bathrooms on the lower levels and the reception area, with its drawing room and kitchen, on the storey above.

the building’s original glass roof has been completely replaced
image © luc boegly (also main image)

in both apartments, the glazed upper level enjoys double exposure. on the drawing room side, the vista takes in the gold and prestige of the opéra garnier and the layout of the façades of the grand hôtel. from the kitchen, the view attempts to capture paris’ sprawling cluttered rooftops. designed by vincent parreira of AAVP, an important part of the project involved the replacement of the glass roof. the new canopy has the exact dimensions as the one built in 1899, and respects the placement of the glazed parts on the façade and roof.

the rooftop residence has been conceived as an ‘inhabited observatory’
image © luc boegly

despite this attention to detail, the architects still had to convince france’s official architectural review board to approve the structure, as parreira sought to develop a more contemporary style. as the apartments are intended for single occupant or couples, privacy was not a primary concern. consequently, parreira partitioned the homes using transparent glass and one-way mirrors, resulting in more open and brightly lit spaces.

built-in elements of furniture leave the space free of superfluous elements
image © luc boegly

‘the bedroom is placed behind a transparent glass wall,’ explains the architect. privacy is achieved not by means of a wall but rather with a curtain, through which shadows can be perceived. as for the large mirrored section, a distant wink at wink from afar to the galerie des glaces in versailles generates an ambiguous situation. is it a glass wall, or a closet? the idea it might conceal a shower never even crosses one’s mind. there is of course a bit of a theatrical game of appearance/disappearance, and the will to always be able to engage with the entire space.’

a leather curtain separates the kitchen from the drawing room
image © luc boegly

providing access between the two levels, the existing staircase has been preserved and treated as a quirky object whose material and structural presence is somewhat out of place. occupants of the main living space are seemingly in a display case, thrust into the urban space. the deliberate decision not to install a curtain or shutters is justified by the building opposite — a hotel whose clientele are rarely in their rooms.

the kitchen offers views in the opposite direction
image © luc boegly

the built-in elements of furniture — storage cabinets and a built-in banquette running along glazed façade — leave the space free of superfluous elements. this also highlights particular features, such as the leather curtain separating the kitchen from the drawing room. ‘sitting on the bench, you are completely carried away by the sky,’ concludes parreira.

the bathroom and bedroom are found on the lower levels
image © luc boegly

the original staircase viewed from the shower
image © luc boegly

the bedroom and office are positioned behind a transparent glass wall
image © luc boegly

the second apartment’s kitchen and living space
image © luc boegly

the second unit is slightly smaller in size
image © luc boegly

as with the larger residence, stairs lead to the bedroom below
image © luc boegly

project info:

location: paris, france

type: interior architecture
area: 82 + 78 sqm
client: private
status: complete
year: 2016

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