The well-established practice for interior architecture founded in the 1970s by Rena Dumas realised this new design for the Hermès store Rive Gauche placed in an old, disused swimming hall in Paris.
“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 concrete composite floor slab supported by a light structure. Underneath, the pool has been integrally 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 here is 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 whole, they are complementary.”
“At the foot of an elegant apartment building from the mid 1930s, the facade of the Hermès store is discreet. An entrance portico in the centre between two windows, nothing to hint at the surprise awaiting once through the doors…
The entrance is like a lightwell overturned, horizontal, which attracts one irrevocably towards the light at the back, towards what was the Lutétia swimming pool. The entrance to the store must function like a delicious trap into which the visitor lets himself slide, from crossing the threshold of the doors on the street until he reaches the swimming pool and its strange inhabitants, the huts. To guide him, the perspectives are accentuated and modified by an imperceptible contraction, rather like the sides of the Médicis fountain in the Luxembourg garden. The lightly inclined ceiling, the walls curved and leaning inwards, covered with oak laths that leave recesses open as if floating in matter. An introduction full of mysteries inciting one to plunge into this new Hermès house… ”