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The Red House, Paris

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Ten years ago, there was a petite house in the Bastille area of Paris that sat tucked away behind the boulevard, surrounded on all four sides by a deserted factory. Today, that little house still stands -- not as a misplaced residential relic, but as the heart of a Parisian locus of contemporary art.

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  Founded in 2000 by Antoine de Galbert, an avid art collector, the Maison Rouge (or Red House) encompasses over 21,500 square feet dedicated to temporary exhibitions. The architect, Jean-Yves Clement of Amplitude in Grenoble, was chosen to renovate the buildings and unify them into a coherent gallery experience, yet maintain a semblance of their industrial past.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    Founded in 2000 by Antoine de Galbert, an avid art collector, the Maison Rouge (or Red House) encompasses over 21,500 square feet dedicated to temporary exhibitions. The architect, Jean-Yves Clement of Amplitude in Grenoble, was chosen to renovate the buildings and unify them into a coherent gallery experience, yet maintain a semblance of their industrial past.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  Two main industrial factory spaces circle the house, dating from 1950 and 1960. (In some parts, we can still see the warehouse frames and some different concrete striations on three levels.) These transformed into four separate exhibition spaces combining to 14,000 square feet total, and they lead the visitor to circulate in a periphery path around the entire museum.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    Two main industrial factory spaces circle the house, dating from 1950 and 1960. (In some parts, we can still see the warehouse frames and some different concrete striations on three levels.) These transformed into four separate exhibition spaces combining to 14,000 square feet total, and they lead the visitor to circulate in a periphery path around the entire museum.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  Unbeknownst to many until they reach the end of their journey at the restaurant, this periphery path forms a circumference around the original house. The house was preserved and painted red, forming the core of the museum and enclosing the administrative parts of the gallery. (Shown in solid black poché on this floor plan.)  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    Unbeknownst to many until they reach the end of their journey at the restaurant, this periphery path forms a circumference around the original house. The house was preserved and painted red, forming the core of the museum and enclosing the administrative parts of the gallery. (Shown in solid black poché on this floor plan.)

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  One major move was to break up the floor slabs of all the encircling factory warehouses, in order to create huge vertical volumes of space for contemporary art exhibitions. The glass roof covering the central house was preserved, as were the original proportions and structural system of metal rivets.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    One major move was to break up the floor slabs of all the encircling factory warehouses, in order to create huge vertical volumes of space for contemporary art exhibitions. The glass roof covering the central house was preserved, as were the original proportions and structural system of metal rivets.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  Paradoxical spaces of the existing site and building are adjacent and can often still be felt today. For example, certain rooms seem vast and abandoned, others have low ceilings with original metal structure and stonework intact, yet a few steps later, one can find the typical museum "white cube" sterility of exhibition space.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    Paradoxical spaces of the existing site and building are adjacent and can often still be felt today. For example, certain rooms seem vast and abandoned, others have low ceilings with original metal structure and stonework intact, yet a few steps later, one can find the typical museum "white cube" sterility of exhibition space.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  There were definitely challenges to creatively navigate during rehabilitation—for instance, in rendering the glass roof above the metal structure to become fire-resistant, firewall partitions were used for the new ceiling construction.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    There were definitely challenges to creatively navigate during rehabilitation—for instance, in rendering the glass roof above the metal structure to become fire-resistant, firewall partitions were used for the new ceiling construction.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  Bordered by glass walls and open to the sky, the dining patio sits behind the house and is a natural outlet for the gallery's restaurant.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    Bordered by glass walls and open to the sky, the dining patio sits behind the house and is a natural outlet for the gallery's restaurant.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  It is also the site of a chosen artist's work three times a year. In summertime, the patio installation has a particular constraint: it must be fully accessible to visitors and functional as a cafe terrace space.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    It is also the site of a chosen artist's work three times a year. In summertime, the patio installation has a particular constraint: it must be fully accessible to visitors and functional as a cafe terrace space.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  This year, Christophe Gonnet graces the outdoor island with a wooden architectural proposition where loungers can seek isolation or refuge from the rest of the surroundings, not unlike a forest.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    This year, Christophe Gonnet graces the outdoor island with a wooden architectural proposition where loungers can seek isolation or refuge from the rest of the surroundings, not unlike a forest.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  According to the architect's vision, upon entering the Red House, you could forget that you are in Paris, and even get lost inside without any notion of the neighborhood geography or urban context.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    According to the architect's vision, upon entering the Red House, you could forget that you are in Paris, and even get lost inside without any notion of the neighborhood geography or urban context.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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  Given that most of the light streams down from clerestories in the absence of horizontal views, I certainly felt as if I occupied a small, undisturbed island quite separate from the bustle of the rest of the city. I emerged on Boulevard de la Bastille feeling fresh yet slightly disoriented, and proceeded to stick my nose into the adjoining bookstore, Bookstorming, for another undisturbed spell of time.  Photo by: Tiffany Chu
    Given that most of the light streams down from clerestories in the absence of horizontal views, I certainly felt as if I occupied a small, undisturbed island quite separate from the bustle of the rest of the city. I emerged on Boulevard de la Bastille feeling fresh yet slightly disoriented, and proceeded to stick my nose into the adjoining bookstore, Bookstorming, for another undisturbed spell of time.

    Photo by: Tiffany Chu

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