Piscine Molitor
Florian Kleinefenn, Montreuil; Gilles Trillard, Paris

Piscine Molitor

Jansen as Manufacturers

The “Piscine Molitor” does not just tell a story about the history of building; for a long time, the swimming pool was an important part of the leisure culture in Paris and was one of the city’s most popular meeting places. As part of its revitalisation, the Perrot & Richard Paris architectural practice converted the facility into a luxury hotel with a bar, club and spa.

 

For six decades, the Piscine Molitor was a defining feature of the cityscape between Boulevard d’Auteuil and Avenue de la Porte Molitor in Paris’ elite 16th Arrondissement. Recently, the MGallery hotel chain (belonging to the Accor Group) opened a five-star hotel on the plot of the swimming pool which was closed in 1989. The apt translation of the building’s Art Deco style into the modern day contributes greatly to the perception of this historic site as authentic and poignant. The concept developed by the architect Lucien Pollet in the 1920s was unique: for the first time ever, the Piscine d’Auteuil-Molitor combined an Olympic-size indoor and outdoor pool, thereby serving the needs of both the competitive sport and the leisure pursuit in equal measure. A three-storey structure surrounded the swimming pool hall, which opened out upwards, with stairs and walkways encircling the pool providing access to the changing rooms located there. They were designed to look like the Deauville beach huts. Its unique character meant that the building commonly known as “the white cruise liner” was used time and again as a backdrop for eye-catching photo shoots. With the unveiling of the first bikini, fashion history was also written here. However, over the years, the elaborate decor lost its appeal and the equipment became outdated. In August 1989, the pool was finally closed. The community association “SOS Molitor” quickly formed, and managed to get the building listed as a heritage site one year later. Despite this, the building was mostly dismantled apart from a small section of the façade and some building components that had been safeguarded previously, in order to make space for a newbuild. In addition to a hotel with 124 rooms, some of which look out over the swimming pools, the building complex houses a luxury spa with a bar and restaurant.

 

Retention through change
In an ideal situation, the original external appearance of a building would be retained when it undergoes necessary changes. In the case of the Piscine Molitor, the architects integrated the indoor pool in their design to match the original exactly. However, they made the previously Olympic-size outdoor pool smaller in order to make space for the hotel rooms that were constructed in place of the changing rooms. Paintings, mosaics and large-scale Tiffany-style glazing give it an authentic feel. Other key stylistic elements such as the wooden stairs, pergolas and spandrels on the surrounding walkways were faithfully reconstructed. The discerning guests expect the highest level of comfort as soon as they cross the threshold. Glass sliding doors with slimline frames underline the very high aesthetic demands placed on the design there. The architects opted for a special solution for the automatic sliding doors using the Janisol Arte steel profile system. The sometimes large-scale window and façade openings that were required by the conversion were adapted for the architects using the thermally insulated Janisol, Janisol Arte sliding doors and Fire doors and fire-resistant partitions – Janisol 2 EI30 steel profiles. Their functional simplicity allows the new windows and doors to guarantee contemporary standards of thermal insulation, fire resistance and comfort. On the side facing the swimming pool, they meet the fire resistance requirement EI30. With a great deal of gut instinct, Perrot & Richard mastered the balancing act between “conservation” and “newbuild”. Upon its opening, the building ensemble was therefore still the same as it used to be – but also completely different.
 

MGallery Molitor Paris

Kettal as Manufacturers

Famed for its 2 swimming pools, since the 1930s the Molitor has been the place to be in Paris. The Molitor reopens in May 2014 with its spirit and architecture intact. With views of the summer pool, the 124 rooms at the 5-star MGallery hotel invite you to discover this wonderful location: enjoy relaxing in the spa, swim in the indoor pool, share a cocktail on the rooftop or savor the menu dreamt up by 2 generations of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. Relax: you are at the Molitor.


While the facade of the stadium have been entirely preserved, samples of the original cabin doors, stained glass and railings have been used by artisans to reproduce the Art Deco spirit of Molitor. However, in the state that the complex was in, the architects maintain that the main structure absolutely needed to be demolished in order to carry out the restoration. The €65 million project has seen a four star hotel, health spa and restaurant added to the property. Here’s a look at the revived Molitor…


While some Molitor loyalists have been upset by the decision to add a hotel, let’s hope this swimming pool will once again become the glamorous bathing spot it used to be. With the box-office success of Life of Pi, no doubt curious Parisians will be lured back to the Piscine Molitor and celebrate its long-overdue revival.


Extensive work went into restoring its mosaics and stained-glass windows, as much of the building’s exterior had to be rebuilt. The south-facing side is all that remains of the original facade, as the central pools retained its original blue-yellow color scheme. Inside there are 124 hotel rooms, repleted with modern furniture, espresso machines, as well as a spa, gym, and rooftop bar. According to designer Jean-Philippe Nuel, the venue will now host regular exhibitions from local artists in a nod to its more recent past to illustrate a visual narrative of Piscine Molitor’s illustrious 85-year transformation.


“The approach was to look at the pool like a character with many histories, many cultures — a birth in 1929 and today, a certain maturity,” said Nuel, who designed the interiors at the new Molitor. “The challenge was to connect these two points — its birth and current renaissance — with sometimes contradictory facets, like the 1930s windows next to a bomb of spray paint… Two worlds that have nothing to do with one another, and suddenly connecting them with a thread.”

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