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  1. ArchDaily
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  3. Houses
  4. France
  5. OMA
  6. 1998
  7. AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA

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

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA +7

  • Architects

  • Location

    Bordeaux, France
  • Architect

    OMA
  • Design Team

    Jeanne Gang, Julien Monfort, Bill Price, Jeroen Thomas, Vincent Costes, Chris Dondorp, Erik Schotte, Yo Yamagata, Oliver Schütte
  • Structure

    Arup, Cecil Balmond
  • References

    OMA
  • Project Year

    1998
  • Photographs

From the architect. With the ability to make even the simplest and straightforward programs spatially dynamic and in a constant state of redefinition, Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA have redefined the term that “a house is a machine for living” in their design of Maison Bordeaux.  Completed in 1998, Maison Bordeaux sits on a small cape-like hill overlooking the city of Bordeaux.

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA
© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

The house was designed for a couple and their family, but before Koolhaas and OMA were commissioned for the project in 1994 the husband of the family was in a life threatening car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. 

Two years after his accident, the couple approached Koolhaas to design them a new home outside of Bordeaux.  Despite having been paralyzed, the man did not want t straightforward house rather he wanted a complex design, stating: “Contrary to what you would expect. I want a complex house because the house will define my world.”

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA
© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Koolhaas proposed a rather simple volume that was spatially complex and innovative in terms of the interior organization and conditions.  Koolhaas proposed a house that was the compilation of three houses stacked on top of one another; each with their own unique characteristics and spatial conditioning.

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA
© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

The house appears as three separate entities that fluctuate between opaque and transparent.  The lower level sits as a heavy mass that is carved into the hill.  The interior is cavernous and labyrinthian, in a sense, where all of the intimate activities of the family take place. 

The middle volume is the most transparent as well as the most occupied space in the house.  It is the space for the living area that is situated partially indoors and outside offering extensive views over Bordeaux and allowing for a multitude of activities with its open plan.  The top volume is similar to the lower level in that it is opaque and conceals the bedrooms of the children and the couple. Unlike the lower level, the volume is penetrated with port hole windows that create views for the residents from their beds.

With each floor being inherently different it is perplexing as to how a handicapped man was able to live in such a spatially complex house.  Even though there is no duplicated, or repeated, organizational system, all three volumes are tied together by a central elevator that moves between each floor.  However, it is not simply just an elevator for vertical circulation between floors, but it is masked by the husbands office that provides access to the entire house moving from the kitchen, the lower level, all the way to the bedroom on the highest floor, which was driven by a large hydraulic piston that raised and lowered the room whenever necessary. 

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA
© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

This ingenious idea of create a room that is capable of moving vertically through the house creates a spatial dynamism withing the house that is always changing and redefining the space of the office as well as the space where it stops.

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA
© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

With the three differentiated volumes stacked on one another, it appears as if the highest volume is floating on the middle volume because of the transparent glass.  With such a complex organization among floors, the overall structure of the house comes into question as to how these volumes stack up to one another.  With the third volume seemingly floating on top of the middle volume and actually cantilevering over it, one wonders how it could be supported.

The cantilevering volume is supported by a steel tube that conceals a spiral staircase that extends throughout each level of the house.  In addition to the steel cylinder, there is an L – shaped brace that supports the back end of the house, which is complimented by a steel beam that runs along the roof that connects to a tension cable that is buried in the ground to stabilize the lateral loads – a signature of architectural intent by Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond.

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA
© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

Maison Bourdeaux is a masterful innovation of space that far exceeded the expectation of the clients wishes.  Maison Bordeaux remains as a private residence that does not allow public visitors; however, regardless of its seclusion, it is still an innovative architectural landmark that was truly “a machine for living.”

Cite: Andrew Kroll. "AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA" 25 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/104724/ad-classics-maison-bordeaux-oma/>
Read comments

51 Comments

Perry Jordan Hammond · February 05, 2015

Does anyone know where i can find the the dimensions and measurements of the Bordeaux house?

Cachorra · April 09, 2015 11:10 PM

did you find it?

Laszlo Kovacs · April 26, 2013

can we get plans and sections please?

Erick Hernandez · January 10, 2013

"a house is a machine for living", cool. I will not ever live in a home like this. 1. cant afford 2. i need a fence for some dog 3. where I am from, only objects made of this much cement are business buildings and Interstate highways.

Erick Hernandez · January 10, 2013

“a house is a machine for living", cool. I will not ever live in a home like this. 1. cant afford 2. i need a fence for some dog 3. where I am from, only objects made of this much cement are business buildings and Interstate highways.

Rachel Hall · November 29, 2012

The Maison Bordeaux is a fascinating building because of its complex spatial play and fluctuating program, but what I think makes it the most interesting is its symbolism. Due to the client’s unfortunate injury, he was left with a handicapped world, but OMA architecturally solves this obstacle with the central lift. It is just like a prosthetic for someone’s missing limb. The lift provides the client with the ability to move freely within his building just like a prosthetic leg allows someone to walk again.

Aritha Fernando · November 29, 2012

The Maison Bordeaux is a design masterpiece for being able to cater to the client while still displaying multiple trends of modernism. De Stijl styles also seem to have influenced its design with its rectilinear forms and asymmetrical balance. The lift in the center and the the materials Koolhaas give the Maison a very modern feel.

A T · June 29, 2012

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA | ArchDaily http://t.co/Kxk6gh26 via @archdaily LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.....

Tania Anggreani · February 24, 2012

jadi nge-fans juga sam Koolhas =) Maison Bordeaux|OMA|http://t.co/splmEuLR via @archdaily

ppriolo · January 15, 2012

@ArchDaily Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA (1994-98). http://t.co/woAHNERS

Bruno Bellomo · July 11, 2011

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Giovanni · May 25, 2011

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u-plus a-plan · February 25, 2011

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Arno M · January 29, 2011

RT @ludwigmichael: Maison Bordeaux / OMA http://t.co/UJS2mAr I wonder how many leaks there are in the house...

Mies van der Rohe · January 29, 2011

Maison Bordeaux / OMA http://t.co/UJS2mAr I wonder how many leaks there are in the house...

???/nori.wtnb · January 28, 2011

i love this! RT :AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA | ArchDaily http://t.co/0x3vd7m via @archdaily

oscar aramendi · January 28, 2011

una casa no es solo un techo 2 aguas con tejas, aquí una vivienda que ya es un clásico Maison Bordeaux / OMA | ArchDaily http://t.co/7ANocJW

Yasir Azami · January 27, 2011

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Candy D. · January 27, 2011

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Deepak Gupta · January 27, 2011

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juergen denifle · January 27, 2011

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA http://bit.ly/eYRfMq an all time classic in architecture

architecture3s · January 27, 2011

Love the classics - OMA in Bordeaux! http://tinyurl.com/6345b5e http://yfrog.com/h3eh4jej

daqb design · January 26, 2011

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Siamak Adib · January 26, 2011

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rolo · January 26, 2011

a opaque close volume soaring over a clean clear space....beautiful...the automatic platform, not important

nodotzero · January 26, 2011

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Magnus Strom · January 26, 2011

Not a huge Koolhas fan, but this is absolutely rad AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA | ArchDaily http://t.co/fdtC7gA via @archdaily

Erika Kitaoka · January 26, 2011

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA http://pulsene.ws/RDTN

Matthew, J. PARK · January 26, 2011

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA http://bit.ly/grOFqI ? ??? ?? classic? ?????? ? ?????.. Rem KOOLHAAS? ?? ? ?? ???? ?????? ???? ??. #sckr

Chris Doherty · January 26, 2011

A dynamic room. Now that&#39s what I need only in the form of an arch studio desk. Maison Bordeaux / OMA http://t.co/86XuwIj via @archdaily

thomas foral · January 26, 2011

AD Classics: Maison Bordeaux / OMA | ArchDaily http://t.co/01lc5ET via @archdaily

Jonas · January 26, 2011

Try to find the movie "Koolhaas houselife". A documentary about this house. It's worth seeing!
Here is the trailer to make you excited.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

silentbee · January 26, 2011 04:26 PM

Great movie. Lovely to see this masterpiece in a whole new light. And funny! :)

ALink · January 26, 2011

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DEZIGN · January 26, 2011

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Genie · January 26, 2011

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···

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