Taking to the water in Paris

Nick Myall
12 Aug 2016

This new floating hotel on the Seine has been carefully designed to blend with its Parisian environment and has a host of energy saving features

A new floating hotel on the Seine designed by Gérard Ronzatti, the president of Seine Design, has just opened its doors in Paris. The hotel merges with the city via its right and left banks and the twin hulls of the hotel itself, the river Seine that splits the city, its zinc roofs, and the multiplicity of its services. In many ways OFF Paris is like a floating fragment of the city itself. 

OFF Paris Seine presents a simple and uncluttered architecture based on twin hulls that are strongly connected together, on which two levels of modules are superimposed. The floating facility adopts a discrete line since it respects the regulatory height of 6 m from the water line in order to preserve views on the river. Elegant zinc roofs open facades outward while a central glass roof lets natural light enter at the heart of the building.

Despite its imposing size (75m x 18m), the OFF fits perfectly into its environment. The aft of the building is composed of a terrace built just above the water line, forming a balcony onto the river, and two marina pontoons allow smaller boats to moor alongside. From the swimming pool, the pool’s water line merges with the river, giving an unprecedented view on the Seine and its surroundings.

On board, all the public spaces are directly and clearly identifiable by clients. The fluidity of circulation corroborates this dimension. Four gangways organise the entries and exits - for customers and suppliers – and give access to different floors and locations in the facility. 

Crossed by the river as Paris is crossed by the Seine, the water is the building’s backbone. Everything has been thought through to make the river experience as authentic as possible: the flexibility of the hulls’ articulation to maintain the natural rocking movement, the generous perspectives on the Seine it delivers, the hotel’s projection to 10 m from the riverbanks thanks to gangways, the first floor level designed just above the water line, the port’s integration at the aft. In the evening, the permanent relationship between the facility and the water is magnified by the lighting design work of Franck Franjou.

The style is globally sober, far away from fads, giving the building a certain timelessness using sustainable materials; mostly wood, copper, leather, glass and zinc. 

Several green innovations have been implemented to reduce water and energy consumption on board:

  • Vacuum toilets: up to 82% of water use reduction compared to traditional toilets. It consumes only 1.2 litres of water per flush. This process is used in aviation and railway sectors.
  • Heat pumps: the thermal exchange between water and Seine’s waters has a very efficient output and helps heat the rooms. 
  • Dual flow ventilation: heat recovery from rooms’ exhaust air. Each room is equipped with a fan coil driven by an energy saver when the room is unoccupied: fresh air regulation according to occupation is crucial for overall ventilation management.
  • The use of sustainable and recyclable materials - wood, steel, glass and zinc – participate to the facility’s sustainability. 

The buildings modular architecture also brings significant benefits. Each room is a prefabricated module built in factory. This highly managable modular architecture process has numerous environmental benefits:

  • Construction time reduction (modules fabricated in factory in masked time, while the structure is being built)
  • Material savings and carbon footprint reduction.
  • Great finishing quality in terms of sealing, waterproofing and insulation since modules are not subject to weather conditions. 

Seine Design has developed an innovative gangways’ system for the hotel that provides both access and mooring. No dolphin pillars have been planted in the bottom of the Seine to maintain the building, thus reducing the environmental impact of the facility. This gangway system helps ensure  comfortable access regardless of the water level. During high flood the lower bridge is used as the slope is low. At usual water level access by the upper bridge will be utilised. The building was designed to bear the 1910 floods’ level of 8,62 m.

WAN Waterfront Award 2016 now open. For more information contact:


+44(0)1273 201 123

Nick Myall

News editor

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