Exterior Cantilever view of the Maison à Bordeaux by OMA

© Hans Werlemann

While French newspaper publisher Jean-François Lemoine was looking for an architect to design a new home, he became partially paralyzed from a car accident. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas designed the house in 1998 to accommodate an active family man confined to a wheelchair.

Bordeaux House Technical Information

  • Architects: OMA / Rem Koolhaas
  • Location: Bordeaux, France
  • Team: Jeanne Gang, Julien Monfort, Bill Price, Jeroen Thomas, Vincent Costes, Chris Dondorp, Erik Schotte, Yo Yamagata, Oliver Schütte
  • Typology: Residential Architecture / Houses
  • Size: 500 m2
  • Project Year : 1994 – 1998
  • Engineers: ARUP, Cecil Balmond
  • Drawings and Photographs: © Hans Werlemann

Architects work in two ways. One is to respond precisely to a client’s needs or demands. Another is to look at what the client asks and reinterpret it.

– Rem Koolhaas

Maison a Bordeaux Photographs
Exterior structural Support

© Hans Werlemann

Mobile platform

© Hans Werlemann

Bed and living room

© Hans Werlemann

© Hans Werlemann

Movable platfomr of the House in Bordeaux by Rem Koolhaas

© Hans Werlemann

TEXT BY OMA

The Maison à Bordeaux is a private residence of three floors on a cape-like hill overlooking Bordeaux. The lower level is a series of caverns carved out from the hill, designed for the most intimate life of the family; the ground floor on garden level is a glass room – half inside, half outside – for living; and the upper floor is divided into a children’s and a parents’ area.

The heart of the house is a 3×3.5m elevator platform that moves freely between the three floors, becoming part of the living space or kitchen or transforming itself into an intimate office space, and granting access to books, artwork, and the wine cellar.

A couple lived in a very old, beautiful house in Bordeaux. They wanted a new house, maybe a very simple house. They were looking at different architects. Then the husband had a car accident. He almost died, but he survived. Now he needs a wheelchair.

Two years later, the couple began to think about the house again. Now the new house could liberate the husband from the prison that their old house and the medieval city had become. “Contrary to what you would expect,” he told the architect, “I do not want a simple house. I want a complex house, because the house will define my world…” They bought land on a hill with panoramic views over the city.

The architect proposed a house – or actually three houses on top of each other. The man had his own ‘room’, or rather ‘station’: the elevator platform. The movement of the elevator continuously changes the achitecture of the house. A machine is its heart.

The elevator has the potential to establish mechanical rather than architectural connections. That movement alters the architecture of the house. It was not a case of ‘now we’re going to do our best for an invalid’. The starting point is rather a denial of invalidity

– Rem Koolhaas

Maison a Bordeaux Floor Plans
Basement Floor Plan

Credit: OMA

Section Plan

Credit: OMA

Elevation of the House

Credit: OMA

Axonometric View of the House in Bordeaux

Credit: OMA

About OMA

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is a Dutch architectural firm based in Rotterdam, founded in 1975 by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Greek architect Elia Zenghelis, along with Madelon Vriesendorp and Zoe Zenghelis.

Maison a Bordeaux Image Gallery

Other works from OMA