Mirror House

Mirror House

Philippe Gazeau
Paris, France
Project Year
Private Houses
Philippe Ruault et Luc Boegly

Mirror House

Philippe Gazeau as Architects

It was an awareness of the need on the one hand to make do with the existing and, on the other, to fly in the face of the dullness of the street, the ordinary ugliness of the surrounding houses and the little space available, that dictated the need for the delicate insertion of a form that was necessarily exogenous. This was the approach that governed the essential architectural work on the Maison Miroir in Suresnes which consisted in developing an interior space that was both exploded and continuous, between and through the two main elevations. The treatment of the street and garden elevations reflect their specific relationship to the context: the street elevation shelters from an uninteresting neighbourhood and protects the intimacy of the house through the use of sliding expanded metal screens, while the garden elevation establishes a strange and ambiguous relationship with the interior of the block by providing total transparency towards the base and offering reflection and dematerialization towards the top through the use of large sliding mirrorpolished stainless steel panels.

The mirror effect on the new elevation reflects images of the neighbourhood while seemingly continuing the surroundings. Inside the house, the compact envelope opens up and unfolds through a vertical break cutting through the central area and a level offset between street and garden. The vertical break slices the interior volume into two, creating a breach that runs through the house from street to garden. On the upper floor next to the spiral staircase arrival point, this device separates the parent’s area from that of the children. The level offset provides a greater floor to ceiling height for the ground floor living room giving onto the garden and creates an additional volume under the dining area between street and garden level. These vertical and horizontal cuts are structurally marked by a system of orange-coloured metal posts and lattice girders set into the house’s concrete structural casing at fracture and level change points.

Its demonstrative, radical nature is clearly innovative in the district. However, there are no architectural or technical innovations as such, just the fact that each architectural and technical decision has been developed and pushed to its extreme spatial and constructive limits. One of the interests in designing houses is to be able to overcome normative solutions and control experiments as and when they take place, without any particular hierarchy, simply adjusting to the progress of the works and the needs of the project. The lightweight nature of the building also provides a greater level of freedom.

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