Private residence overlooking the City of Bordeaux

The Maison à Bordeaux is a private residence of three floors on a cape-like hill overlooking Bordeaux. The lower level is a series of caverns carved out from the hill, designed for the most intimate life of the family; the ground floor on garden level is a glass room – half inside, half outside – for living; and the upper floor is divided into a children's and a parents' area. The heart of the house is a 3x3.5m elevator platform that moves freely between the three floors, becoming part of the living space or kitchen or transforming itself into an intimate office space, and granting access to books, artwork, and the wine cellar.

A couple lived in a very old, beautiful house in Bordeaux. They wanted a new house, maybe a very simple house. They were looking at different architects. Then the husband had a car accident. He almost died, but he survived. Now he needs a wheelchair.

Two years later, the couple began to think about the house again. Now the new house could liberate the husband from the prison that their old house and the medieval city had become. "Contrary to what you would expect," he told the architect, "I do not want a simple house. I want a complex house, because the house will define my world..." They bought land on a hill with panoramic views over the city.

The architect proposed a house – or actually three houses on top of each other. The man had his own 'room', or rather 'station': the elevator platform. The movement of the elevator continuously changes the achitecture of the house. A machine is its heart.

Private residence overlooking the City of Bordeaux

1994 comission, 1998 completed




Bordeaux, France

5km from Bordeaux centre on a cape-like hill, 180º view over the city and the river

5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms (main house); 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (guesthouse); (total area: 500m2)

Arup, Cecil Balmond

Fitted furnishing and mobile platform:

Maarten van Severen, Raf de Preter

Vincent de Rijk, Chris van Duijn

Coordination and technical assistance:
Michel Régaud, Bordeaux

Robert-Jan van Santen

Gerard Couillandeau

Inside Outside

Wall Street Journal, 25 December 2008
Time, 21 December 1998

A+U #369, 06/01
2G #26, 2003
AMC Le Moniteur Architecture #140, 02/04
Arquine #33, Fall 2005
Archistorm #21, 09-10/06
Architects' Edition #11, 2001
Architectural Record #1, 01/02
Architecture instantanée Nouvelles acquisitions Centre Pompidou, Fall 2000
Blueprint #237, 12/05
CA (Contemporary Architecture) #48, 03/03
Casa Vogue #249, 2006
de Architect, 11/05
de Volkskrant, 23/10/03
Diseño Interior #120, 07/02
English Homes #5, 2001
GA Houses (Special: Masterpieces 1971-2000) #2, 01/11/01
HL (Highlights) #9, 10/01
Hot Air #74, 07-09/01
Jornal Arquitectos #203, 11-12/01
Kaza #1, 2003
La Verdad, 25/05/01
Metropolis M #2, 04-05/01
Modern House 2, Fall 2000
Monitor #3, 22/06/05
npoekt international #1+2, 2001
Officiel Paris #866, 06-07/02
Quintessentially Beautiful #9, Spring 2006
TA (Time & Architecture) #68, 2002
Ville Giardini #373, 10/01
Vogue, 04/02

Partner in charge:
Rem Koolhaas

Jeanne Gang, Julien Monfort, Bill Price, Jeroen Thomas, Vincent Costes, Chris Dondorp, Erik Schotte, Yo Yamagata, Oliver Schütte

1999 Le prix L'Equerre d'Argent
1998 TIME Magazine Best Design of the year


Maison à Bordeaux is a private residence and in general not accessible to public. Generously the owners open it from time to time, for information please contact Centre d'Architecture Arc en Reve

The house is on a stretch of private property and cannot be seen from the street. Please respect the privacy of the owners and their neighbours and do not trespass. With binoculars you will be able to see the house from the Garonne river bridge.

For more information please contact