Clément Lesnoff-Rocard has converted a 19th-century house in Paris's La Défense into a contemporary home featuring a double-height dining room that looks onto a central courtyard.
Located on the outskirts of Paris, at the very foot of La Défense, an otherworldly accumulation of oversized high risers, the house stood almost lost on the edge of a tiny little street that ends abruptly abutting the massive fundaments of a cluster of towers. This brutal situation, in between high density modernist utopia and the modestly grandiloquent 19th century architecture, emphasizes the feeling of being a tiny little Défense-less being. The house seemed like an oyster without a shell, lost in the ocean. Luckily it was articulated around a little exotically planted patio garden and the architects decided at the first visit with partner Gil Percal that this house had to be protected from this outer predatory world, turning its back to the street and only looking at itself, its garden and its own qualities, yet to be found. As many 19th century urban houses, over the years the house had been quite parasitized by the consecutive owners’ interventions. Space was suffocating and textures were shouting at each other in a belligerent manner.
"The project is about finding a way for a family to have its own universal and symbolic wild landscape inside their home," suggested Lesnoff-Rocard, "surrounded by the city but deeply separated from its looming pressure."
The garden and the idea of nature provided the main reference point for The Island's interior design. Many of the forms and materials used evoke natural features or aim to enhance the connection with the outdoor space. A double-height glass wall connects the courtyard with the main living areas, providing views of the sky as well as the lush planting.
A curving, white-concrete mezzanine that bridges across the living and dining area is described by Lesnoff-Rocard as "a stratus, a low cloud passing quietly above your head".