h2o Architectes adds angular shelving units to a book collector's Parisian loft apartment

Wooden bookshelves installed against slanted walls help to define the different areas of this open-plan loft apartment that h2o Architectes has renovated in the Arsenal district of Paris (+ slideshow).

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

Located in a typical Haussmannian building from the 19th-century renovation of Paris, the loft had previously been converted from its original use as servants' quarters into an apartment that was divided into three rooms. But it didn't make the most of the window views, so its owners – a family with two children – asked local firm h2o Architectes to reorganise the interior and make it more open.

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

The firm tackled a similar task with its design for the Parisian apartment of a comic-strip collector, which was solved by dividing the space using a series of white, rounded volumes.

In the Arsenal home, a series of bookshelves help to define the newly configured spaces, creating space for the client's extensive library.

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

"The challenge was to take advantage of the amazing views of Paris while creating closed spaces and organising a giant book collection," architect Antoine Santiard told Dezeen. "The owner is a book collector and the display of his collection organises the space and different areas."

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

Existing columns, chimney breasts and angled walls determined the layout of the apartment, as well as the positioning and shape of the new bookshelves – which the team describes as being like totem poles.

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

"Totemic wood shelves that emerge from the parquet floor play and react with all the existing diagonal shapes," said Santiard. "At a larger scale they act as filters and brings some dynamics to the apartment's organisation."

A new parquet floor stretches diagonally along the centre of the space, connecting the lounge at one end with a central dining area near the entrance and a library at the opposite end.

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

Some of the shelves lean against the existing surfaces, while others are installed as freestanding units. Their timber construction creates a visual connection with the parquet, while the white paint used to brighten walls and other structural elements continues onto some sections of the floor.

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

The children both have their own bedrooms, which are separate from the central space. Their parents don't have a separate room but their bed is raised up and surrounded by shelves for privacy.

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

"The parents stay awake later at night in the living space and sleep in this inhabitable furniture," Santiard added. "The plinth and the totem act as kind of filters, while the bed keeps a connection with the rest of the apartment and the views."

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

A minimally decorated kitchen adjoins the dining area, while a bathroom is incorporated below the sloping roofline at one end of the apartment.

Arsenal Flat by h2o architectes

Each space boasts a different view of the city skyline from one of the five small balconies situated around the perimeter of the roof.

The architects have completed a number of other projects in their home city, including an office fitted out with units made from modular blocks, and a glazed nursery extension with a folded fabric canopy.

Photography is by Stéphane Chalmeau.

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Axonometric diagram – click for larger image
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Floor plan – click for larger image
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Sections – click for larger image