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Cubic mentality: 4-story Paris flat fits comfort in 25 sq mt

Architect Jérôme Vinçon believes that with architecture, like clothing, made-to-measure buys a lot more than ready-to-wear. When his friends Michel Craca and Gaelle Potel bought a tiny apartment (next door to the restaurant in Paris’ Montparnasse where he’s head chef and she’s maitre d’) and asked for his help, he delivered a piece of personal architecture where every centimeter was scrutinized.

In what was once a doorman’s room and cellar, Vinçon took advantage of the 17 feet of height and crafted four floors of personal architecture in just 25 square meters. Instead of creating the smallest staircase possible, Vinçon turned the entire apartment into an open staircase. 

On the top floor a mostly open bathroom dangles above the living room. Its semi-transparent shower (the “peep show”) is suspended directly above the kitchen. Down a tiny boat-style staircase, the bedroom is the final subterranean floor. Cut off from all light, it feels like a cozy captain’s cabin with lots of sliding storage.

To extend the natural daylight from the apartment’s sole window (in the living room), Vinçon left the bathroom open with its semi-opaque shower. By making the kitchen just a half-floor below the living room, it also benefits from the window. Given Craca’s profession as a chef, Vinçon worked to create the most professional kitchen possible in 32-square-feet of space.

Vinçon has spent years studying small spaces. His research has focused on boats, dorms, space station and a convent. He once lived in a tiny room (1.8 by 6 meters) in Le Corbusier’s modernist convent near Lyon (“Couvent Saint-Marie de la Tourette”) and was inspired by all of Le Corbusier’s theories on the dimension of the body of man.

“We often say that architecture is a matter of 10 centimeters. Ten centimeters less here (he says pointing out the bedroom stairs) and my shoulders don’t fit anymore. Ten centimeters are fundamental here. SO I’m not working within 10 centimeters here, but one centimeter. So here I had to work more with the human body. So it required a lot of thought to find the best solution each time.”