Hôtel de la Reine Margot

"Memory and modernity of an hôtel particulier" - ARCHITECT’S APARTMENTS IN PARIS, December 21st, 2009.

In 2006, the agency VIDALENC ARCHITECTES was entrusted with the complete restructuring of an apartment located in an architectural ensemble of exceptional history: everything occurred at the edge of a road which was named Rue de Seine in 1521 and received its final row in 1530.

The occidental side of the rue de Seine has been inhabited since the 16th century, especially since the construction by Queen Margot, around 1607, of a huge ‘hotel particulier’ at the edge of the road, in which she died in March 1615.

The estate was then demolished and a new hotel particulier was built in 1623 on this same location, with a partial preservation of Queen Margot’s hotel.

Even though the occupants changed throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the current construction is a real vestige of the one built in 1623: the main facades on the court of honour and the garden, despite the modifications and raisings made around 1839, are still a typical arrangement of the first half of the 17th century.

The building was bought again in 1913 by the town council of Paris and its facades were inscribed on the historical building inventory in 1926. It was divided in parts that have been sold separately since 1997.

The agency VIDALENC ARCHITECTES endeavoured to dissociate the stratum since the interior of the building was significantly modified during the 20th century: divisions of the volumes, creation of corridors and mezzanines floors… The project was to start by suppressing these additions and use the historical organisation of the building as a basis.

This project falls within an approach aiming to avoid any lie or artificial intervention that would inevitably collide with the truth emanating from the place. In this way, the volumes of the historical rooms are revealed and entirely rehabilitated.

By juxtaposing these spaces, this process allows a vision and a real comprehension of history instead of hiding it or instrument it superficially. This juxtaposition is also emphasised by the passage leading to the reception room, used as an interlocking of ancient and modern volumes.

The challenge also lied in the integration of the water treatment, of an underfloor heating and a computer equipment, of sound and video, the whole set being linked together by a 6 kilometre-cabling system. The simplicity of the volumes and their control don’t betray the complexity of this technique.

The new flat unity is obtained thanks to the rare quality of the details and completions. Indeed, the project manager being extremely demanding, the works accomplished are able to stand comparison with the historical wealth of the place.