Esmod’s move to a late 19th century townhouse in the 9th arrondissement of Paris came as the result of a desire to create a new image for this school, which has been training fashion designers since 1841. Its founder, Louis Lavigne, played an historic role in the development of French fashion. The building is remarkable in its own right, and is situated within a preservation area with several neighbouring historic monuments such as the Gustave Moreau museum. The first step for this renovation and rehabilitation project was to strip back the additions tacked on over the course of its successive uses, particularly as office space.Once all the additions were removed, the high ceilings, parquet floors and mosaics as well as marble details and mouldings reappeared, creating a rich framework on an interesting scale. Freed of the layers of earlier refurbishments and a tangle of technical equipment, the quality of the volumes was more than enough to set the stage for architecture conducive to designing.

The project expresses the design choice to simplify the space and assert contemporary lines. This consisted firstly in showcasing the beauty of the Eiffel-style atrium with its cupola, a rarity in Paris. We turned this exceptional space into the school’s meeting place, reception hall and events space. Elsewhere, the textile and model-making workshops were designed to retain the possibility of being modular. The wide circulation areas have become exhibition spaces. The new volumes and materials contrast with existing surfaces, creating a dialogue between the past and the present: the original materials are matt and moulded, whereas the new design elements are shiny and geometrical. In this way, the concept creates a synergy between our architectural intervention and the restoration of a historic building. This interplay between a rich heritage and rigorous modern architecture reflects French fashion, a constant dialogue between tradition and innovation.

Fashion school
Refurbishment of a listed townhouse

3 000 m²

ESMOD
Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode

12 rue de la Rochefoucauld
75009 Paris – France
Tel : +33 (0)1 44 83 81 50

Photography credit: Patrick Tourneboeuf

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