Hermès entrusted the RDAI agency, with the design of a new space, singular and unexpected in Paris. An immense volume, empty. An impression more of space than of surface area. And now, after at the end of a project that added but did not take away, the Lutétia swimming pool, in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter of Paris, metamorphosed into the first Hermès boutique on the Left Bank.
The architectural project led by Denis Montel and the teams at RDAI mixes contrasts and complementarities. It was imagined more in terms of volume than surface area, in m3 more than in m2. In the end, it is an intervention both radical and astonishingly gentle.
Listed as a Historic Monument since 2005, the swimming pool built in 1935 has a strong architectonic character and a compelling identity, that of Art Deco - it is in the spirit of its age. After its closure, the swimming pool underwent varied and diverse uses and was transformed.
The challenge was to translate some of the values intrinsic to Hermès into space: heritage and modernity, savoir-faire and creation.
The project has a double aim.
First of all to respect, conserve and reinterpret the architecture of the swimming pool. The only important modification was the covering of the pool by means of a concrete composite floor slab supported by a light structure. Underneath, the pool has been entirely preserved. The facade, giving onto the rue de Sèvres, has kept its original appearance.
Then, to tell another story, one that is resolutely contemporary. This takes form through the appearance of three monumental ash huts, which both disrupt the existing volumes and converse with them. The invasion of what was once the pool by these huts, flexible, light and nomadic, suggests the creation of houses within the house.
A change of scale, an invitation to wander, to drift, which produces a powerful magic...
Everywhere, the movements seem natural, they are fluid, rippling. The shimmering of the water that was once there are evoked in a subtle way in the tones of the mosaics, in the effects of the lights...
What existed and what has been added converse in a strange harmony.
They are complementary and become a whole.
Architect RDAI Structural engineer Bollinger + Grohmann MEP engineer Secath
Lighting consultant L'Observatoire International Executive Architect Agence JLA