Paris – For the most part, Wood Ribbon is the quintessential Haussmannian apartment: its rooms are airy and sunny. There are crown mouldings, thick and intricate. The flooring is lined in fish-bone parquet. And yet, the apartment’s most striking feature – a single curving wood-partition wall – is clearly contemporary, part of Toledano + Architect’s strategy to update the traditional Parisian apartment into a home fit for 21st-century living.
Today, wide boulevards and six-storey apartments constructed from pièrre de taille are synonymous with contemporary Paris. Yet when Georges-Eugène Haussmann first proposed gutting medieval Paris for his ambitious urban planning programme in the mid-1800s, many Parisians were aghast. Medieval Paris was historic and beloved, but it had become over-crowded, dangerous and unhealthy to live in. Haussmann’s proposal was an attempt to reinstate efficiency and cleanliness into derelict Paris.
Toledano + Architects’ idea of an update was less extreme than Haussmann’s. The apartment was totally preserved, except for one feature – its original partition walls. Designing for a family of three with a newborn had proven challenging within the constraints of the old layout, so the designers replaced non-load-bearing walls with two winding wooden partitions. These inhabitable dividers span the length of the apartment, cutting the area into three: a master suite and dressing room, a children’s bed and bathroom and, in between the two partitions, a corridor space encompassing the kitchen, dining room and living room.