How California Style Influenced a Group Home in Paris

A forward-thinking group home in the 20th arrondissement channels a midcentury spirit.

A group home, essentially an orphanage for teenagers, may not have been Damien Brambilla’s dream commission. The budget was tight, the bureaucracy heavy, the room to design something radical—or even just artful—more or less nonexistent. But where others would see a headache, Brambilla, a Paris-based architect, saw an opportunity to change what this type of building can mean to its occupants—in this case, a dozen adolescents under the care of the city government. Some had lost both parents; some had been removed from parental care by the state. Brambilla explains that he wanted them to feel "chez soi," at home, returned somehow to "the house they no longer have or one they never even knew." 

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Stephen Heyman
Stephen Heyman is a writer. He was formerly the features editor for T: The New York Times Style Magazine.


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