LAN’s rooftop Parisian HQ takes office design to new heights
When designing a modern office space, architects often look to create spaces primarily for concentration, ideas exchange and collaboration – hot-desking docks, isolation booths, breakout areas and flexible workspace – ‘work’ being the operative word. Not LAN; the Paris-based architecture office (‘LAN stands for ‘Local Architecture Network’) had an entirely different starting point, when it set off to design a new home for its some 40-strong studio.
‘Since the start of this project, we wanted to create an atmosphere, rather than a space. And this is more about just being flexible’, explains co-founder Umberto Napolitano, who heads the practice together with Benoit Jallon. Spotting an opportunity to occupy part of a neglected garage building in the 11th arrondissement, the team decided to take the idea of a headquarters and merge it with that of a home, modernising by simplifying and toning down, and (quite literally) elevating the experience by expanding and adding an extra floor on the rooftop.
‘The opportunity was to create something special, taking advantage of the potential offered by the typology of the garage building, especially by the oversized structure that allowed us to add a floor’, continues Napolitano. At the same time, the architects took inspiration from a quote by Jean Nouvel, who stated in his 2001 Centre Pompidou exhibition that he wishes we made ‘offices that look like apartments, because then they would offer more warmth, scale and the possibility of an identity’.
Now spanning three floors – two existing ones and a rooftop glass pavilion with expansive views of the Parisian roofscape – the new headquarters really feels like a home away from home. It includes plenty of flexible, social spaces as well as flowers and a vegetable garden, from which a chef picks out fresh produce weekly to cook for the team.
The interiors are a mix of bespoke furniture (almost everything in tactile, friendly wood), modern pieces (a mix of own designs and sourced products) and vintage finds, hand picked by the architects themselves. Styles mix residential-inspired furniture, from calming Nordic to minimalist Japanese designs, and beautifully composed, functional elements of an architect’s office – such as their materials library.
The top floor’s columns feature a blue tinted concrete mix that mimics the signature Paris roof colour. Glass sides emphasise the strong relationship between inside and outside, and allow the light to flow in. ‘We wanted to create a sort of Mediterranean house on a roof’, stresses Napolitano. ‘We wanted to redefine freedom, so we designed these spaces that are flexible and social and open up completely in the summer’.
Moving from their old HQ in rue d’Hauteville to its fresh home, the studio felt this move was an organic progression, in line with the office’s previous moves and natural growth - as opposed to a statement for statement’s sake. ‘In the past it has always been about size, we moved as the team grew’, they point out. Yet the space flags up the studio’s sensitive approach that goes above and beyond briefs, in an effort to improve spaces and lives.
‘We always try to produce a space that creates potential and goes beyond the brief’, Napolitano concludes. ‘This is true of all our projects’. §