Villa dall'Ava

The clients ask for a house with two distinct apartments—one for themselves and another for their daughter—and requested a swimming pool on the roof with a view of the city.

The site is delineated by three segments along the east-west axis: the garage, the main volume of the house, and the garden, which extends the length of the site. The garage is accessed at street level and embedded into the sloping site. The villa itself rises from the level of entry to a roof deck perched three stories above. Its visually distinct volumes are stacked and oriented to optimize views of the garden and distant city.

The communal spaces for the family are located within the main volume, a glass box ensconced in the garden. The architects conceived of the site as a room bounded by vegetation and terrain; the living room set within a larger room. Broad glass windows puncture the concrete wall at garden level so that the living spaces appear fully wrapped in glass. The walls create a permeable barrier between interior and exterior and slide to open fully onto the garden.

Though the villa’s perimeter is almost entirely glass at garden level, it is not completely transparent, as one might expect. The south facade is composed of transparent and sandblasted glass, screening a portion of the living room from view while permitting the passage of light. The minimalist kitchen is hidden from the exterior, tucked behind a curved, translucent wall within the living space.

Along the north facade, a thickened partition of plywood obscures the living spaces from view. Only the elements of circulation, which occupy the space between the plywood wall and glass facade, are visible from the exterior. A narrow ramp leads from the entry to the garden level, and cantilevered steps provide access from the living room to the apartment above.

The swimming pool occupies the roof level of the central volume. From below, there is no clear indication of its existence. The surface of the water reaches just below roof level. The lack of guardrail or parapet accentuates the horizontality of the roof, juxtaposed by the apartments jutting in perpendicular directions at each end.

The continuity of each apartment's cladding is interrupted only by bands of strip windows. The bathrooms are housed in opaque, rectangular volumes set back from the exterior walls. Slender steel columns painted shades of black and gray support the larger of the two apartments, which dominates the street facade.

Villa dall'Ava  OMA Rem Koolhaas

Location  Paris

Area  135 m2

Project Year  1991

Photographs  © Peter Aaron/OTTO, © Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA

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