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Modern makeover puts 1830s Paris in the present day

Industrial wood and black steel combine to make a Parisian loft studio a contemporary but welcoming home, writes Andy Pearson

Industrial materials on the inside contrast with Parisian neoclassicism on the outside.
Industrial materials on the inside contrast with Parisian neoclassicism on the outside. Credit: Camille Gharbi

Florent Chagny Architecture (FCLA) has given a small Parisian loft apartment a distinctive industrial aesthetic using SterlingOSB Zero and black painted steel.
The 50m² apartment is on the top floor of a wooden-framed residential building, built around 1830, in the 5th arrondissement. It’s new owner approached FCLA and asked the architect to reimagine the duplex’s dated interior. ‘The client wanted to give a new identity to the old apartment he had just bought,’ says FCLA principal Florent Chagny.

FCLA’s response has been to open up the dwelling by removing partitioning along with a huge ‘useless’ fireplace. A spiral staircase, added in the 1990s when the apartment was last renovated, was also removed. At the same time, the roof windows illuminating the upper level were replaced with thermally efficient contemporary units. These, along with two white-framed dormer windows, now fill the new interior with daylight.

Raw, unpainted SterlingOSB Zero and black steel give the opened-up spaces a contemporary, paired-back industrial-style make-over. It is an aesthetic that is both in keeping with the functionality of the semi-exposed roof structure that defines the apartment’s angular, irregular form and the need to use space efficiently and effectively.

By choosing an industrial wood, a raw material usually meant to be hidden, we created a stylish interior

The upper level mezzanine bedroom maximises space in the rooftop apartment.
The upper level mezzanine bedroom maximises space in the rooftop apartment. Credit: Camille Gharbi

Chagny says SterlingOSB Zero was chosen because it is ‘quite warm’ and it also complements the use of steel. An additional benefit is that because the Sterling OSB is Zero, no formaldehyde has been added to the board during manufacture, which will also help in creating a healthy living environment.

Enabling SterlingOSB Zero and steel, materials that would normally be concealed, to be the most prominent design feature required close attention to detail. ‘The idea was to highlight the functionality and form of the materials used,’ says Chagny. ‘By choosing an industrial wood, a raw material usually meant to be hidden, we set out to create a stylish interior by focusing on all of the little details we had to draw on’.

FCLA’s extensive use of SterlingOSB Zero gives the apartment an edgy style that looks both cohesive and individual. Its use is most prominent in the kitchen which, along with the lounge, forms the apartment’s open-plan lower floor.

SterlingOSB Zero is even used for the fitted wardrobes and bed.
SterlingOSB Zero is even used for the fitted wardrobes and bed. Credit: Camille Gharbi

SterlingOSB Zero is used to give the doors of kitchen’s modular wall- and floor-level units a distinctive grainy surface finish. This is in contrast to the smooth, industrial black worktops, splashback and electrical sockets. A bespoke peninsular unit serves as a table for three bar stools; this section of countertop has been designed to slide to expose storage cabinets beneath, which then double-up as additional seating.

SterlingOSB Zero is also used as a floor covering in the kitchen and lounge. 

The lounge includes a custom-made low-level SterlingOSB-faced storage cabinet, complete with a smooth black top and sides that reference the kitchen units. The use of this and other low-profile furniture in the lounge, coupled with the double height ceiling and daylight from the large dormer windows, fosters the impression of space and openness.

A black steel stair, incorporating built-in book shelves, leads from the lounge to the upper floor bedroom tucked under the ridge of the roof. The bespoke stair’s functional, open-tread design, coupled with the open-backed book-shelf, would not look out of place in a 1950s factory archive store and both are very much in keeping with the apartment’s industrial warehouse style.

At the top of the stair is a glass screen with a slender black steel frame, giving it a more utilitarian appearance. The screen separates the bedroom from the living areas below; ensuring daylight can enter the space while providing an element of acoustic separation.

The industrial aesthetic follows through in the kitchen where SterlingOSB Zero forms the doors of the units.
The industrial aesthetic follows through in the kitchen where SterlingOSB Zero forms the doors of the units. Credit: Camille Gharbi

The SterlingOSB theme continues in the lofted bedroom on the doors of a fitted wardrobe that occupies the entire back wall. This is complemented by a small custom-built SterlingOSB Zero storage cabinet. Even the bed is built from it, with the storage beneath housed in OSB drawers.

A neutral white paint scheme has been used to complement the SterlingOSB  Zero and black steel. A bright power-blue finish to one of the party walls adds just enough colour to the lounge and bedroom to make the spaces feel welcoming and comfortable and relaxing.

Chagny says: ‘The client is really delighted to live in a new contemporary stylish space, with a high ceiling and much more light, which is very important in the centre of large cities like Paris.’

Section showing how rooflights and dormers fill the space with light.
Section showing how rooflights and dormers fill the space with light.

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