Small Paris Family Home

Located near Paris’ Porte D’Ivry, Architect Olivier Menard of Archibien wanted additional space for his growing family without needing to relocate.

Located in the culturally thriving Parisian suburb of Porte d’Ivry, the wide avenues give access to narrow streets filled with bustling cafes and bars.

Once owned by one family, this large building (estimated build was in the 1870’s) was subdivided to create smaller allotments for families of workers.

Menard and his partner were living in the apartment below which was fine for two but would be suitable for their planned family. When the apartment above became available, they snapped it up so they could create their ideal family home.

The facade of the building

Menard wanted to make use of every cubic centimeter. The first floor would house the living areas, including laundry and bathroom, with the second floor being devoted to the Master Bedroom and kids’ room.

The Architect wanted to create an additional sense of volume, so created two zones with higher ceilings: an open staircase and a double-height above the kitchen/dining space, with a skylight that draws in a lot of natural light.

The floor across this level is a composite steel/concrete slab built on top of the pre-existing wood floor structure that was the floor of the original attic. 

The concrete is covered with a pale-grey epoxy resin which makes for a continuous space, with no joints at all. An agro-industrial-grade resin was chosen which is certified for food contact and is a safe and resistant surface.

Above the living room is the Master bedroom which features a skylight and a ceiling fan with the feature being the large double glazed window that overlooks the kitchen.

A desk by the window allows the room to double as an office allowing the residents to make use of the space that would otherwise be empty during the day.

A bespoke storage unit with plenty of space has been included for clothes and personal belonging and the nursery next door has been kept deliberately simple to allow for the room to change and grow with the child.

‘When you design small spaces, the criteria of success feel more real, because you have no option but to make things work: beauty and comfort must come out of practical, technical, physical, and economical constraints.

Vertical extensions to existing buildings are a way to accommodate more people in a given city. They benefit from existing electrical, water, and sewage networks as well as having established transportation, schools, hospitals, parks, and other services. 

The times of “plenty” are over, so living in a tiny space definitely makes sense. For most people in the world now, space is scarce, money is scarce, and recently some common materials became scarce. It may sound bleak for architects, but it is not: there is joy in crafting spaces for people, around people, in an environment of constraints.’

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