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
- 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
Text by OMA Architects
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 the 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 an ancient, beautiful house in Bordeaux. They wanted a new house, maybe an elementary 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 architecture 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
Maison a Bordeaux Image Gallery
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.
Other works from OMA