Exterior Cantilever view of the Maison à Bordeaux by OMA
House in Bordeaux Exterior View | © Hans Werlemann

In 1998, Jean-François Lemoine, a French newspaper publisher, was searching for an architect to design a new home when he suffered a car accident that left him partially paralyzed. This turn of events led him to commission the renowned Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, to design a house that would accommodate his needs as an active family man in a wheelchair. The resulting house in Bordeaux is a stunning example of Koolhaas’ innovative and adaptive designs. It features an interior layout that allows for unrestricted movement and accessibility and a modern and minimalistic aesthetic that seamlessly integrates with its natural surroundings. This iconic home has received international recognition and has become a symbol of the possibilities for architecture to meet the needs of people with disabilities while still maintaining elegance and style.

Bordeaux House Technical Information

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
House in Bordeaux Structure | © 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

The House in Bordeaux: A Complex Accessible Design

The Maison à Bordeaux is a stunning private residence that spans three floors and sits on a hill overlooking the city of Bordeaux. Designed by Rem Koolhaas for a client who became partially paralyzed in a car accident, the house was created to cater to the needs of an active family man that was learning to use a wheelchair.

The lower level of the house consists of a series of caverns carved out of the hill, providing the family with an intimate space for their daily lives. On the ground floor, a glass room half-inside and half-outside serves as the primary living area. The upper floor is divided into two areas, one for the children and one for the parents.

At the heart of the house is a 3×3.5m elevator platform that moves freely between the three floors, transforming itself into a living space, kitchen, or intimate office space. The platform also grants access to the house’s various amenities, including books, artwork, and the wine cellar.

The idea for the house came about when the couple, who had been living in a beautiful but impractical medieval house in Bordeaux, began searching for a new home. After the husband’s car accident, they decided to commission a house that could accommodate his wheelchair and allow him to move around freely. The couple purchased land on a hill with panoramic views over the city.

The architect proposed a complex house made up of three separate units stacked on top of each other, with the elevator platform serving as the man’s personal station. The elevator’s movement continuously changes the house’s architecture, creating a dynamic and ever-changing living space that is a testament to Koolhaas’ innovative design style.

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
House in Bordeaux Basement Floor | Credit: OMA
Section Plan
House in Bordeaux Section | Credit: OMA
Elevation of the House
House in Bordeaux Elevation | Credit: OMA
Axonometric View of the House in Bordeaux
House in Bordeaux Axonometric View | Credit: OMA

About OMA

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is a renowned Dutch architectural firm founded in Rotterdam in 1975 by acclaimed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Greek architect Elia Zenghelis. Madelon Vriesendorp and Zoe Zenghelis joined them, and they have designed and executed numerous influential architectural projects worldwide. OMA’s work is characterized by a unique and innovative approach that blends architecture, urbanism, and cultural analysis. The firm has won numerous awards for its outstanding work and is widely regarded as one of our time’s most important and influential architectural practices.
Other works from OMA 

  1. Design Team: Jeanne Gang, Julien Monfort, Bill Price, Jeroen Thomas, Vincent Costes, Chris Dondorp, Erik Schotte, Yo Yamagata, Oliver Schütte