Claude Parent

Maison Soultrait, Domont, 1956-1958

When Baron Pierre de Soultrait commissioned Claude Parent to design his new main residence, the architect had only been in operation for three years. He had been working since 1953, first with Ionel Schein and then on his own, designing low-cost single family houses in same the vein as the Courant Plan (1953 state program incentivizing the construction of affordable housing). In this particular case, savings – in terms of space, cost and delivery time frames – were not an issue. In fact, in this 2-hectare park, the baron and his family wished to see an innovative house emerge, similar to those that can be found in magazines and trade fairs, for example those dedicated to the ideal home. While creating the model, the architect began playing with the masses and points of view. He imagined two main parts to the building, one rectangular, the other square, joined to form a 120° angle. Although in home design, levels are most frequently used to indicate the separation of functions, here it is the different volumes which indicate this difference. The areas dedicated to family life are spread over two levels in the longest part of the house. In this way, the bedrooms, bathrooms, game room and kitchen are separated from the drawing room, which extends over three levels. Almost entirely glassed in, the drawing room is built in the same concrete structure as the rest of the house. With a height of almost 9 meters from floor to roof, at first Baron de Soultrait found this framework rather frightening, likening it to rocket “launch pads.” To soften the impact of this concrete monolith, Claude Parent clad the exterior in slate, in accordance with the owner’s desires, and the interior with wood paneling. For the architect, this house inaugurated a long series of inventive projects in which the occupants’ life styles and architectural expression seem to predominate.

Audrey Jeanroy

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