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Green Piece: Jakob + MacFarlane's Paris Wanderlust

  • PROJECT NAME Wanderlust
  • LOCATION Paris
  • FIRM Jakob + MacFarlane
  • SQ. FT. 21,500 SQF
Three years ago, Dominique Jakob and Brendan MacFarlane converted a city-owned, 1907 concrete industrial warehouse along the Seine river into the commercial and cultural center now called Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design. Last January, Jakob + MacFarlane was asked back by one of the building’s new concessionaires to create a dining-and-entertainment complex. The clients already ran exclusive Paris night spots including Silencio, designed with film director David Lynch,but they envisioned something different for the 21,500-square-foot space, two-thirds of it an outdoor platform terrace overlooking the river. In addition to a nightclub with DJs, a dance floor, and a restaurant, they pictured avenue for concerts, movie screenings, art exhibits, and kids’ fairs.

The architects found the key to the project in the new spot’s carefully chosen name, Wanderlust, “with its connotations of travel, escape, freedom, of getting away from stress,” says MacFarlane. The word brought two things instantly to mind: first, guinguettes, late 19th- and early 20th–century open-air restaurants with music and dancing, often found outside Paris on the banks of the Marne river. “They were relaxed places to spend time with other people — popular, not chic,” notes Jakob, who is French. The second inspiration—the traditional “bach,” a small, hammered- together vacation cabin in the woods or at the beach—comes from MacFarlane’s homeland, New Zealand.

Simple, rustic elements adapted from both vernacular forms and zapped into the 21st-century setting include solid ipe flooring and decking and tables and bars in slatted iroko. The terrace and restaurant seating, painted a warm gray, is based on the iconic chairs in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

But the Wanderlust element that combines open-air and hammered-together best—and is also the most eye-catching— is the terrace pavilion. Its freeform shape was computer-developed, and its chartreuse tensile fabric is stretched on a steel frame and pinned down to the cement floor beneath the decking. Although the city’s cold, rainy winter weather keeps the terrace in hibernation for half the year, it makes spring and summer that much sweeter.

Project Team
Thorn: Lighting Consultant. RFR: Structural Engineer. SIRC Industries: Metalwork. Prototype Design: Woodwork.