Napoléon apartment by
FREAKS freearchitects

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French studio FREAKS freearchitects has renovated an apartment on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, once the address of Napoleon I, so the architects decided to dress up as the former emperor for the photo shoot (+ slideshow).

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

"We're getting more and more bored by the nice shots where everything is so clean, with the perfect Scandinavian-design chair, the perfect white orchid, the perfect art book on the table," FREAKS freearchitects partner Guillaume Aubry told Dezeen.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Over the course of the project, the architects learnt that Napoleon had been responsible for the construction of the street and that it was possible he'd lived in the apartment they were refurbishing.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

"Napoleon supposedly having lived there was a running joke among the building team and us," said Aubry. "That's why we decided, the three of us, to sort of perform the photo shoot wearing Napoleon-style hats."

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

The pictures show the architects exploring the rooms of the apartment, which include large living and dining rooms with a new kitchen and bathroom added to one side.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

In addition to the existing bedroom, two children's rooms are inserted into the former utilities area and each one features a mezzanine first floor accessed by an industrial ladder.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Period mouldings are retained in the front rooms, but the architects have added modern details such as fluorescent tube lights and faceted kitchen units. "One of the main interventions consisted of opening the new kitchen towards the dining room, while taking charge to use a contemporary architectural langage," said the architects.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

The renovation didn't include the addition of furniture, which is why one of the photographs shows the architects sitting on imaginary chairs.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

FREAKS freearchitects often take a playful approach to their projects and others we've featured include dimension arrows stuck to the facade of Oscar Niemeyer's French Communist Party Headquarters and a cosmetics shop with a wooden tunnel inside.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

See more architecture and design in Paris »

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Photography is by David Foessel. The dog is Merlin (photographer's own).

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Here's a description from the FREAKS freearchitects:


FREAKS has been commissioned to work on the transformation of a 170sqm flat downtown Paris, Rue de Rivoli. The Rue de Rivoli, which goes from Place de la Concorde until Place de la Bastille, has been built under Napoleon the 1st. The very first part of the street, facing the Jardin des Tuileries was his own property and he might have lived here or there in one of those chic flats.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

The order was to transform that high ceiling stateroom into a familial flat, including two new children bedrooms in addition with the parents one. Therefore, the main target was to create new connections through the rooms ; some doors have been closed, some others have been pierced to avoid the typical dead-end distribution system. The service rooms on the backyard, at the end of a long and narrow corridor, have been transformed into the children area, to which one can acces by the service door, turning that part into an independant space within the flat. The bedrooms made profit of the high ceiling by embedding mezzanine, on which one can access by using a crinoline ladder.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

A new kitchen + bathroom have been placed on the street side. Most of the existing moldings have been painted in white. The very cute venitian style boudoir has only been renewed.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

One of the main interventions consisted in opening the new kitchen towards the dinning room while taking charge to use a comtemporary architectural langage within the space. No furniture or decoration were required, only a dozen of industrial waterproof neons (Sammode) with a special brass cladding have been used on the dinning room and billiard room walls.

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Above: floor plan

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Above: long section through bathroom and kitchen

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Above: cross section through kitchen and front room

Napoléon apartment by FREAKS freearchitects

Above: cross section of children's bedroom

  • ema

    I love the floor and I love the photos.

  • fistule

    SO refreshing to see how poor people live.

  • Emma

    Architecture 101 – when the design is lacking, dress up like you are going to a child’s birthday party.

    Very average. I’m surprised the architect wanted to put their name to it.

    • Esse

      I have to agree. “Average” is rather generous, in my humble opinion.

  • seth

    Are the Napoleon dudes really necessary? Nice set of interventions nonetheless.

  • bobbyD

    So they installed a kitchen. Great.

  • http://twitter.com/Macker202 @Macker202

    It’s a beautiful project, I think. Kept a lot of the original details, adding a modern minimal twist. Hard to combine ornate detailing and minimalism without it looking like a poor compromise between the two.

  • Vin

    Pure marketing; brilliant in that way. Architectural intervention is quite good at looking for fans and thinking about the pics that will be published in the media. They are not freaks – their narcissism is too evident and that is the opposite to freaks.

  • Alex82

    Once again, Freaks don’t know what to do, so they wear hats. Will they make architecture once a day?

  • Jane

    And it’s probably a great architect who’s talking.