This small building tucked away in the back of a courtyard in Paris 10th district formerly housed small, dark apartments over two levels that were unsuitable for living in. “Given the presence of house fungus (mushrooms that had attacked all the building’s wooden structure) in particular, we had to entirely recreate the building, only keeping the outer building envelope, which was remodeled as well,” the architects, Alia Bengana and Capucine de Cointet, point out.
In the owners’ specifications were making the place fit for a family while managing the construction and the site in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Begun in May 2016, the construction took 8 months and cost 400,000 euros, interior and exterior work combined. The small building became a comfortable 120-m² family home spread over 4 levels. In addition to the ground floor and first and second floors, 38 m² of vaulted basements are now home to the laundry room and a multi-purpose space that can be used as a game room or home cinema.
“Our main focus was letting as much light as possible in the house while still maintaining the privacy of the residents,” the architects explain. “This is a typical Parisian apartment with a small courtyard where the neighbors are never far away. ”Certain levels were thus opened with half-height floors in order to capture as much light from the south as possible. As for the large staircase, located opposite the façade, it is crowned with a glass roof, allowing for the whole staircase to be lit up and bringing light to the ground floor. And because the spaces are restricted to one exposure (except for the skylights), the architects used glass walls inside, such as in the primary bedroom. “It diffuses light while allowing the parents to keep an eye on their kids,” the architects explain.
The emphasis was on using raw, simple materials. From the larch for the windows to the solid oak for the staircase, not to mention the gritstone wall, which was entirely uncovered, and the raw metal for the railings and the glass elements, used to highlight its finesse and look. “We kept the wall in its patchwork state with its different additions and multiple materials. It’s a witness to the history of this building,” the architects say. In the bathrooms and the kitchen, the same hexagonal tiles can be found, but each room has its own color scheme. The same goes for the railings and the outside metal protections, where diagonal lines soften the horizontal and vertical ones.
As for environmental performance, the building was insulated from the outside in order not to remove any living space. Recreating the floors allowed for the easy installation of ducts for heat recovery ventilation. Finally, planters were buried in order to provide enough soil to allow plants to grow that will cover the façade along the wires strung up to the top of the building.
Architect collaborator- Valerie Dumont
Landscape architect- Macha Paysagiste
20 rue Poliveau75020 Paris France
Structural work -Fort et Fils
115, avenue du Muguet 93370 Montfermeil France
General secondary works contractor- Moulinet Rénovation
27, rue des Trois Bornes 75011 Paris France
Insulation and Facade restoration- TENE
31, avenue Thiers 93340 Le Raincy France
Roofing and Framing- Couverture Langlinay
1, rue des Prè des Cygnes 77470 Villemareuil France
Built-in furniture- Goraguer Menuiserie
113, rue Marcel Hartmann 94200 Ivry sur Seine France
Metal work- Design Metal Stairs
13, rue des Sureaux 28410 Bû France
Materials and supplies
Lighting: FLOS – NEMO LIGHTING
Sanitary: DURAVIT – KALDEWEI – GEBERIT
Tiles: MOSAIC DEL SUR – COMPTOIR DU CERAME
Windows: CAST PMR – VITRAL
Bathroom wall cement: MARIUS AURENTI
Press distribution: V2com
About Alia Bengana and Capucine de Cointet
Alia Bengana was born in Algiers. She graduated from the Paris-Belleville School of Architecture in 2000. During her studies, she spent one year at La Sapienza School of Architecture in Roma. This experience marked the start of a European career path, which later became international.
She started working for the Josep Llinás Architecture Agency in Barcelona in 2001 and continued in 2002 by collaborating with the Dusapin Leclercq Agency for projects in North Africa. Then, she worked for three years for Pier Luigi Copat, an Italian architect based in Paris, a part of whose activities are connected to the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
In 2006, she was awarded the Delano & Aldrich Fellowship from the Academy of Architecture and the American Institute of Architects that allowed her to spend one year in the United States making a comparative study of the systems used to evaluate the environmental quality of buildings (the LEED® Rating System in the United States and the HQE® Approach in France). This experience was fundamental to her professional path, piquing her interest in environmental quality and how to apply it to architecture.
In 2007, Alia Bengana moved to Shanghai. She started collaborating with an Australian-Chinese company that is sensitive to environmental issues, BAU International Architects and Urbanists. Then, she worked as a freelance on interior architecture projects, as well as on furniture design, for private clients. In September 2008, she moved back to Paris and created the Alia Bengana Architect Agency.
Alia Bengana is interested simultaneously in two different threads of architecture, from the construction of buildings and its role in improving our environment all the way to the detailed drawing and design of furniture.
Capucine de Cointet
Capucine de Cointet studied art history at the Sorbonne and then architecture at the “Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture”, which she completed in 2001. Her diploma is awarded by the jury of her school chaired by Odile Decq in the category “best diplomas of the year”. After professional experiences as a trainer with renowned architects such as Jean Nouvel or in young creative structures such as the RH+ architecture agency in Paris, she decided in 2002, at the age of 27, to create her own agency.
Passionate about the relationship between the individual and his or her living space, she proposes an architecture that is both human and creative, which has led to numerous commissions and publications.