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Bordeaux Revisited


Curtains, carpets and fabrics to mold the spirit of a space.

Domestic space is made up of many elements. Curtains are among them, being as ethereal as they are important for the perception and use of space. Maison Lemoine, designed by OMA in Bordeaux, is an example of this. A building conceived by one of the most important contemporary architecture offices acquired its character thanks to collaboration with Petra Blaisse and her textile design. Fifteen years after the original design, Blaisse was recalled by the owners to revisit the spaces and reassess their qualities. "Bordeaux Revisited", a short film by Lucas Bacle, explains what emerged from the new assessment.

The particular conception of the house, in terms of volumes and forms, is very well known. The building is a contemporary architectural icon, and for this reason it has been observed and described in various ways, some laudatory, others realistic and even ironic.

The house is made up of three stacked volumes with different distinctive features, thus the new textile designs change on each floor. The bottom floor is sunk into the landscape and has an interior courtyard, facing the caretaker's residence, and a guest house. Here Inside Outside, Petra Blaisse's group, introduced a brown and silver, double layered, silk curtain, enhancing the quality of the light when closed.

The middle floor is the most transparent, boasting of a huge glass façade. The curtain is the tool with which the inhabitants control the light coming into the interior and select the views of the exterior. A white cotton curtain with a horizontal slit reflects the bright light of southern France outwards and diffuses it inwards. A strategically placed circular window allows the owner to choose the views out to the garden, courtyard and the city as she moves around the space. The exterior track on the southern façade is inhabited by a grey net filtering the view and the harsh sunlight and creating an extra in-between space on the terrace.

The top floor is semi-transparent, covered on both sides by a large façade punctured with portholes that light up the bedrooms: again curtains respond to the specific architectural conditions and create different atmospheres. White lacquer patches, lined with gold faux leather floating on a canvas of white voile cover the windows and softly reflect a golden glow onto the interior wall. A horizontal slit in light blue and grey lacquer curtains provides a delicate view outwards while the penetrating daylight bounces onto the curtain's oily reflective surface.

The element that connects the three volumes is the impressive hydraulic lift that acts as a moving 'room' through the house. A bright red woollen carpet accentuates the presence of this room: part of it covers the platform while the rest spreads through the living room, only revealing itself in 'complete' form when the lift is on the living room level.

Lucas Bacle's short film focuses on curtains, carpets and fabrics, and presents the images and the sounds of those textiles through the overall frame as well as details. Each individual textile piece is fundamental in creating the spirit of the space and tailoring it to the inhabitants' lifestyle and taste.

(Story by Paola Ricco, The Architecture Player)


Architect: OMA, Inside Outside
Mentioned project: Maison à Bordeaux
Project location: Bordeaux, France
Director: Lucas Bacle

France 2017
Duration: 4'17''