S+TARCK in METZ: his vision of urban roof extensions






In 2020, will Metz become the epicentre of a world event: the opening of the first hotel entirely designed by Philippe Starck, and the first establishment of the Maison Heller chain, a brand created by the star designer.

Another whim of this brilliant, protean creator, or one of his recurrent media bluffs?

A spectacular architectural project

It seemed that the project, which had received huge media coverage in 2015, was yesterday’s news. But in fact no, the hotel, featuring nine storeys culminating at a height of forty metres, will indeed be built. The spectacular future building, which will boast a surface area of 6,930 m2 and 119 rooms, is located in the Amphithéatre commercial zone, a district undergoing large-scale renewal, close to the gigantic shopping mall. A vast project entrusted to the highly experienced architecture firm VIGUIER (*), of which it will most likely become a flagship creation.

I had mentioned this project, because the image was so spectacular, in a previous article on roof extensions. But is this really a roof extension? Seen from afar, this building gives the impression that the château – an almost identical replica of the Villa Salomon constructed in 1904 on avenue Foch in Metz – was propelled upwards by a gigantic pump and remained perched on its base. Or, on the contrary, that a disaster buried the city around it and the undamaged château is the only building to have remained at previous ground level!

A guaranteed worldwide buzz

Cleverly, the designer doesn’t talk about the hotel any more, and even less about the chain, he refers to “acollection of houses designed and built focusing on simplicity (sic), elegance and charm, which will welcome guests in the comfort of a family home combined with the excellence of a top-end hotel service.”

We might well wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier to buy and renovate the Villa Salomon and turn it into a luxury hotel. But this would probably have been an overly simplistic option and less of a selling point than creating a high-rise building to enable a handful of privileged clients to have their coffee on the edge of the abyss. But Starck knows the rules of marketing and creating a buzz too well to be all hearts and flowers.

A new “urban house” concept?

Roofs and roof-top extensions are in fashion. As is the concept of houses “placed on the roof” since the architect Edouard François set some suburban houses atop a new social housing building in Champigny sur Marne, on the outskirts of Paris, in 2012.

Champigny sur Marne – Architect: Edouard François, 2012

Ever since that innovative initiative, several architects tried the same approach, more or less successfully. A large number of these projects used our zinc on timber frameworks.

Here are three significant examples, and according to me they are better integrated than the aforementioned example. They are located respectively in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, the 19th district of Paris and the city of Brest in Brittany. For these architects, the dream of the little house has moved from the green prairie to the urban terrace!

Boulogne Billancourt – Architect: Vincent Eschalier, 2016

Paris 19th – Architect: Didier Zozio, 2010

Brest – Arch Claire Bernard & Yannick Jégado - 2017

With Philippe Starck, urban roof extensions are put on a pedestal, no pun intended! Everyone is talking about them. Will this project be duplicated elsewhere within the same chain? Roof extensions provide sustainable solutions for urban densification and generate endless inspiration for architects. Keep an eye on my blog to discover these new approaches to upward building.

(*) who designed the Beaugrenelle shopping mall in the 15th district of Paris, among others

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