Saint Antoine Apartment by Heju

  • Saint Antoine Apartment by Heju

    On one of the oldest streets in Paris, a former carpentry workshop has been superseded by an innovative two-storey apartment for a newly married couple.

    Heju, a Parisian architecture studio blending Japanese and Scandinavian influences, is at the helm of this rehabilitated apartment on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris. Last updated in the 1970s, the building’s state was to be expected: in need of restructuring and refurbishing. Notably, the staircase that now connects the two floors was nonexistent, the second floor was uninhabitable and stylistic elements had expired well past their due date.

    Friends Hélène Pinaud and Julien Schwartzmann (“He”-“Ju”) founded Heju in 2015 after graduating from the National School of Architecture in Strasbourg, France. Together, they take straight lines and minimalist volumes and transform them into liveable spaces defined by light and emotion. Materials, textures and colours form the rationale for these spaces; “[they] are at the heart of our reflection to create atmospheres that appeal to all the senses”.

    Saint Antoine Apartment is a fine-tuned instrument of materials, textures and colours in a city that ignites all senses. Soaped Dinesen pine floors, exposed timber beams, waxed concrete walls and lacquered sage-green cabinets – these are just some of the notes that it plays.

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    Structurally, there was a lot of work to be done, and in only a small amount of space (100 square metres to be exact). Taking priority was the development of a functional, unobtrusive staircase: a feat in a confined space. And so came the ingenious idea to suspend the staircase above the kitchen and utilise the countertop as a landing. In writing, this may sound illogical, but seeing it makes perfect sense. To get up to the counter, one must simply walk up a smaller set of pale-pink steps.

    The innovative staircase made provisions for an open-plan first floor, comprising a kitchen, dining area and living room. A tall cabinet frames entry into the kitchen on one side and conceals a cupboard and powder room on the other, optimising space and increasing flow. Talking geometries, the simple zig-zag staircase lines pose a stylistic and contrasting element to the arched bookcases in the living room. This hand-made bookcase, Hélène notes, “highlights the clients’ passion for craftsmanship and reinforces the poetic atmosphere of the place”.

    The second floor, which used to be a storage attic, has been completely repurposed into two bedrooms – one for the couple, one for the husband’s daughter – plus two bathrooms and a home office. All that remains of the former attic space are the exposed timber beams, which commemorate the building’s past life.

    Saint Antoine Apartment cements Hélène and Julien as an architectural duo to watch, attesting to their intuitive problem-solving skills and ability to formulate a cohesive design narrative.

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    Soaped Dinesen pine floors meet bubble-gum pink bed sheets and a custom fluted-wood headboard in the main bedroom. Exposed timber beams from the former attic space offer a rustic element, while &Tradition Journey SHY2 wall lamps are an elegant addition.

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    The DCW Editions Mantis wall sconce in the light-filled study space.

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