The “Front and back” Apartment / h2o architectes

Architects: h2o architectes
Location: Paris,
Client: private
Programme: 60 sqm apartment
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Julien Attard

It was a singular brief from a young Parisian advertising executive also avid collector of comic strips. He wished to live in a fresh environment, both serene and sparkling despite the fact that his existing space was dilapidated, its geometry confusing, compartmentalized and contorted.

The original apartment consisted of 6 rooms squeezed into 60 sq. meters, the entry space alone was 5 sq. meters and had 7 different doors!

original floor plan

project floor plan

The new design offers a continuous wide open space which expands, becomes more complex or dense depending on orientations and uses. These variances are defined by the variable geometries and the usable thickness of the casework and walls. A study on sculpting these depths allowed to create a variety of cavities, niches and alcoves. The sculpted shapes vary in size and colours to adapt to multiple functions in different locations. They can harbour either the vast collection of comic strips or a bar, a bathroom, a closet, and so on.

The front side of each shape always maintains its negative volume on the back. Behind the scenes can unveiled new uses taking place like cupboards, a desk, video, shelves, etc… In this manner, the apartment is continuously renewed and cross-views can become through-views.

Cite: "The “Front and back” Apartment / h2o architectes" 11 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Mookie Wilson

    Cool! I love this renovation- any clue as to what material they used for the wall surfaces to allow the curves? Is it a laminate facing?

  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    This is straightforward, worthwhile, and very appropriate for Paris. The lighting seems a bit pedestrian and unfortunate for this quality of renovation. It is sad to see the nice orange plan broken up with these downlighting cans.

  • PanamArq

    I love the before and after plans, it really explains this project and makes you aware of how much space is opened up.

  • daiber

    Love it!

    although I would have tonce of shit on those tiny beautiful shelves.

    anyway, congrats, it looks incredible and the space renovation was just right.

  • ZipZap

    well done on maximizing the spaces!! the before and after plan really explains a lot the improvement of the space quality!! woot woot

  • lene

    wow. this space is cool. the blend of subtle colours on white is pure awesome-ness.

  • INawe

    Love it! Everything from space planning to the fun details. Among other things the original unit made no sense with the bathroom not connected to the bedroom.

  • archit student

    it looks great! a brilliant job
    but i just hate to clean the dust myself if i ever live in an apartment like this

  • Ken J

    I’m not sure I agree with the removal of a bath tub to be replaced by a shower and what looks like a 30% loss of bed room only to gain a small work area. I like what was done to open the living, dining, and kitchen areas though.

  • Romuald

    Seems craftly done. Not sure of the agressive contrasts in colors and the “spaceship” design of some elements. Not my idea of a home sweet home.

  • jeunemougli


  • Kiki Kurnia

    …yes its a good job !…you got space efficient…clean, clear and simple and ‘the form follow funcition’ from this project.

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  • in.sane…

    hi, nice design…i would like to know, wich material was used to made the totem bookcase?….

    greets from Mx!

  • Tracy Smith

    wow,The plan was great.look s expensive and fabulous.I wish someday i could have this kind of apartment..