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Auguste Perret’s apartment block in Paris | Milkbottle

Auguste Perret's apartment block in Paris

CKA Apartment

Felix Claus is the ideal custodian of his Parisian bolthole. Indeed, given his interest in and shared profession with the man who designed it, it would seem almost as if his custodianship was, ‘meant to be’. For Felix, one of the Netherlands’ leading architectural practices, responsible for everything from contemporary churches to hotels, business centres and post-offices, even designing the Dutch embassy in Mozambique. Auguste Perret, who built the apartment block in which Felix has, for the past three years, enjoyed long weekends, was one of the seminal architects of the 20th century. Says Felix, “In many ways his designs were deeply conservative – but his use of materials, such as concrete, wood and stone, was revolutionary. This is a man who built the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, won awards for his post-second-world-war rebuild of Le Havre, and was always respected by Le Corbusier, who had worked for Perret early in his career.”

Felix had long known of the Perret apartment block, which is located within the ultra-bourgeoise Passy district of Paris, just down the road from an earlier block that the family had designed and built 1902-4. Explains Felix, “The Perrets were clearly a close family, because in both buildings, the company’s offices were situated at basement level, with apartments occupied by various members of the family sitting atop them. Of the three Perret brothers, one was the firm’s engineer, one ran the commercial side of the business, with Auguste the creative brains. He designed for himself an apartment at the top of the building, which was completed in 1932.”

It was while showing a group of Swiss students around Paris’ architectural gems that Felix got his first chance to actually visit the apartment. “At that stage I had to get the key from an elderly lady who’d lived in the building for years. Most of the apartments had been sold and modernised, but this one was owned by a foundation established in Perret’s name. The building is listed both inside and out, which means it’s especially expensive and difficult to run, so when I asked if I could rent Auguste’s apartment, in many ways I think it was an answer to the Foundation’s prayers: income from someone who understood the space and in no way wanted to tamper with it.”

Shot from the atrium through to the living room, with the entire space panelled in unpolished French oak. The little table is by Erno Saarninen. This calf-leather-upholstered banquette is original to the apartment; Felix likes to imagine that it's where Perret would curl up for a nap.
left Shot from the atrium through to the living room, with the entire space panelled in unpolished French oak. The little table is by Erno Saarninen.
right This calf-leather-upholstered banquette is original to the apartment; Felix likes to imagine that it's where Perret would curl up for a nap.
The apartment is within sight of the Eiffel Tower, in the ultra-bourgeois arrondisement de Passy.
The apartment is within sight of the Eiffel Tower, in the ultra-bourgeois arrondisement de Passy.

Images: Hotze Eisma via Taverne Agency. Producer: Rianne Landstra. Felix Claus

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