written by:
October 22, 2012

Built-ins abound in this renovation of a 1970s lodge perched high in the French Alps. H2O Architectes devised a plan to increase livable space while leaving the structure intact. What results is a contemporary ski chalet that makes the most of its small footprint thanks to bunk beds, hidden storage, and streamlined circulation.

Wraparound wooden bedroom with bunk bed nooks

"Rather than trying to fit the furniture into the apartment, we decided to fit the apartment into the furniture," says architect Antoine Santiard. "However absurd this may seem, it immediately alleviated all the constraints linked to laying out tight spaces." The wool curtain dividing the space was made by a local company called Arpin. The custom track is by G-Rail.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Modern cabin floor plan

Four brothers own this apartment located within a larger building and use it for family vacations as well as a rental. The clients were familiar with H2O's work (namely the Front and Back Apartment and Chatou) and enlisted the Paris-based firm to refurbish the space.The original apartment consisted of five cramped rooms squeezed into 592 square feet. The clients wanted to maximize the living space, add storage, make the most of views of the surrounding mountainous terrain, and fit in eight beds and two bathrooms.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Wraparound bedroom with bed nooks

To free up space, beds, shelves, and a sofa appear to be built into the wall. To accommodate the gentle curve of the "unit," the architects selected birch plywood. A large window is opposite of the beds.

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Modern cabin house by H2O Architectes

While the architects had license to revive the interior, they couldn't touch any of the existing structure, walls, or services. Construction couldn't take place when anyone was occupying the building, which left them with a two-month window to renovate. To streamline building, many of the parts were prefabricated offsite.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Modern wooden bedroom with nook

Santiard says that there was a lot of investment in the French ski industry in the 1960s and 1970s and many of those buildings have deteriorated. The city of Les Menuires is in the middle of a five-year plan to modernize its resorts and offers some incentives to rehab older buildings if they meet certain requirements—having a lamp for each bed, a certain mattress quality, ample storage, and a well-equipped kitchen, among others. "The city really pushed us to make a little chalet inside this massive 70s building," says Santiard.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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paneled room cabin alps

Panels slide open to connect the spaces, or closed for privacy. The bed beneath the window is by Swiss company Bico folds into a couch during the day.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Modern cabin interior h2o Architectes

Here's the room with the partitions closed.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Modern cabin interior h2o Architectes

These bunk beds are located just past the wall shown in the previous slide.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Modern cabin interior h2o Architectes

The desk was designed by H2O and has a prime view of the snowy alps.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Modern cabin interior h2o Architectes

Here's the new kitchen. H2O designed the table and benches, whose seats pop up to reveal hidden storage.

Courtesy of 
Julien Attard
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Wraparound wooden bedroom with bunk bed nooks

"Rather than trying to fit the furniture into the apartment, we decided to fit the apartment into the furniture," says architect Antoine Santiard. "However absurd this may seem, it immediately alleviated all the constraints linked to laying out tight spaces." The wool curtain dividing the space was made by a local company called Arpin. The custom track is by G-Rail.

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