Art Life Paris
Places for Living and Working
The artists' studios are sited at the end of a row of buildings of mixed uses. Facing the public square, the apartment/ studio building is surrounded on three sides by streets. Through its position on the square, next to a new school building, and because of its mixed use, the building plays an important role in the success of the redevelopment project.
Designed by the Parisian architects Pascal Quéré and Guy Vaughan, the artists' apartment/ studio building totals 8600 square feet (800 square meters) on a 2060-square-foot (191-square-meter) site. The building was finished in September 2002 after one year of construction.
The residential portion of the program includes three two-room apartments and three three-room apartments. Each of the four art studios is linked directly to an apartment by an internal stair. The studios are constructed with a ceiling height of 15 feet (4.5 meters) to accommodate large sculptures and paintings.
The building's internal organization is structured in layers. Two art studios and two apartments occupy the ground and first floor; two apartments without studios are on the second floor; and, again, two studios with associated apartments occupy the third and fourth floors.
By positioning two high-ceilinged studios on the ground floor, it became possible to align the base of the building with that of the adjacent school building. The large horizontal windows of the top floor studios have the effect of disconnecting the roof from the rest of the building and elevating the roof toward the sky.
An open staircase and elevator are situated in the center of the building connecting to a small courtyard. The living rooms of the apartments occupy the corners and so receive light from two directions. The narrow form of the building makes it possible to daylight every room.
While the apartments appear well planned if ordinary in form and appearance the architects injected most of their energy into the studios. The large volumes allowed them to play with the space using narrow stairs and small mezzanines. This playfulness has created interesting and complex spaces.
Honoring a Paris Tradition
Quéré and Vaughan placed the building, through its architecture, colors, and materials, squarely in the realm of modern Parisian architecture. They used a dark stone to cover the base, white plaster and beech wood panels for the main facades, and black-painted steel and aluminum window frames.
Inside, the studio floors are painted gray, and most of the walls are white with yellow highlights. In the apartments, floors are painted red with mostly white walls and blue highlights. With the black window frames, some of the studios resemble paintings by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.
Looking back through the Parisian history of artists' studios, one notices a resemblance with an early building of Le Corbusier, the Ozenfant House and Studio (1924) in the southern part of Paris. It was designed by the architect for his friend, artist Amédée Ozenfant.
That building embodied some of the principles that Le Corbusier was to set out later in his famous "five points of architecture." Especially noticeable is the idea of a rigid load-bearing skeleton around which interior and exterior elements, freed from any structural function, can be distributed according to other criteria. Thus, the horizontal windows extend across entire walls to provide an even distribution of light inside the house and studio.
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