July 14, 2024

Architectural Design Kingdom

Home is where the heart is

This 172-Square-Foot Paris Home Is a Surreal Treehouse in the Sky

3 min read

On the sixth and top floor of a building in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, on a street that runs along one side of Montmartre’s cemetery, a former staff quarters has been reborn thanks to the vision of architect Anthony Authié of Zyva Studio. In an odd coincidence, he had already renovated the unit once before, with a different vision and a different level of experience as an architect—it was his very first project. “I’d just graduated and I didn’t know as much as I do now,” he says. “I did something very simple and I approached it as if I were designing my ideal hotel, though for someone else and this hotel consisted of only one tiny room.”

Anthony wanted to rethink the space and to tell a new story. It’s an approach he has mastered—he calls it “narrative architecture.” In this case, the story is about a person trapped in a small attic space. It’s so small that she introduces numerous personal details and elements to create the feeling of living in a larger place as each object reminds her of a moment in her life and allows her imagination to wander. Furniture and objects, from tables to handles, all in different scales and sizes, allow her to escape into her fantasies.

chambre de bonne petit espace

While the apartment is small—it was formerly a maid’s room—it has a clear structure and each different space is defined. A kitchen, living room, and sleeping area follow one another along a long woodwork installation in anthracite gray.

© Yohann Fontaine

Let’s start this tale from the beginning. As there was no structural work required—given the apartment’s small size, there was little room or need to start moving walls—Anthony wanted “to play” with the space he had. The main addition became a long installation in wood that integrated all of the apartment’s functions: a kitchen, a library, a bench, a dressing room, and a sleeping area. Made of an oak veneer with an anthracite stain, the installation organizes the apartment’s circulation, fills gaps, and unrolls like a common thread bringing a sense of order to the space. “There’s also, in this slightly childlike universe that is the context for all of my projects, a contrast between a naïve, jovial, appealing, and reassuring side, and another, which is more unsettling. It reflects a child’s sense of scale, a time when everything seems big.” The installation creates a vision of a forest, one where the wood is aged and even burnt. It embodies a sense of anxiety and also turns the apartment into a form of treehouse, floating in a blue sky that is all-embracing and reassuring. “I like it when there’s a helpful common element that wraps itself around the entire space,” Anthony explains. “These unifying backdrops are recurrent in my work. They structure spaces and make them legible, and then the other elements have room to become something else entirely.”


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