AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux - A Masterpiece of Innovation and Design

CEO Khai Intela
Image: © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a house that defies convention and challenges traditional notions of space? Maison Bordeaux, designed by Rem Koolhaas...

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA - Image 1 of 7 Image: © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a house that defies convention and challenges traditional notions of space? Maison Bordeaux, designed by Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA, does just that. Completed in 1998, this architectural marvel redefines what it means for a house to be a machine for living.

Creating a Home on a Cape-like Hill

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA - Image 2 of 7 Image: © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Maison Bordeaux was initially designed for a couple and their family. However, tragedy struck when the husband was involved in a life-threatening car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Two years later, the couple approached Koolhaas to design a new home outside of Bordeaux. Despite his physical limitations, the husband desired a house that would define his world, a complex and unique space that would reflect his personality.

A Spatially Complex Design

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA - Shelving Image: © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Koolhaas proposed a deceptively simple volume that was spatially complex and innovative in its interior organization. The house is composed of three stacked volumes, each with its own characteristics and spatial conditions. The lower level, carved into the hill, offers a cavernous and labyrinthian space for intimate family activities. The middle volume, partially indoors and outdoors, provides breathtaking views of Bordeaux and serves as the heart of the house. The top volume, while opaque, hides the bedrooms of the couple and their children, yet allows for stunning views through porthole windows.

Spatial Dynamism and Accessibility

With each floor boasting a distinct design, one may wonder how a handicapped man could navigate such a complex space. Here's where Koolhaas's ingenuity shines. A central elevator connects all three volumes, serving not just as a means of vertical circulation, but also as a space that seamlessly integrates with the rest of the house. The husband's office surrounds the elevator, granting him access to every part of the house, from the kitchen to the bedroom on the highest floor. This office is powered by a hydraulic piston, which raises and lowers the room as needed.

An Architectural Feat

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA - Facade Image: © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Maison Bordeaux's design raises questions about its structural integrity, particularly with the cantilevering top volume. This volume is supported by a steel tube that conceals a spiral staircase running throughout the house. Additionally, an L-shaped brace and a steel beam stabilize the structure, ensuring its stability and safety.

A Machine for Living

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA - Table, Chair Image: © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Despite its seclusion, Maison Bordeaux remains an architectural landmark that showcases the power of innovative design. It is a testament to how a house can be more than just a place to live; it can redefine our relationship with space. Though you may not be able to visit Maison Bordeaux, you can still appreciate it as a masterpiece of architectural innovation.

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA - Image 7 of 7 Image: © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

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