MVRDV has completed a new flagship store in Paris for French lingerie brand Etam, renovating a 19th-century Haussmann building by removing its internal barriers and adding a glass floor to allow light to fill the interior.
The project sits at a corner site on Boulevard Haussmann, in one of the prime shopping locations in Paris near the Opera Garnier. MVRDV cut back the exterior of the building to highlight its classical appearance whilst allowing natural light to enter the store at both ends.
This “stripped down” approach moves to the interior, where the design reveals the original stone structure through the removal of interior walls and part of the mezzanine floor above. At ground level, a glass floor stretches as one of the project’s defining features. It allows light to enter the basement level and connects visitors at the ground level to the level below and vice versa.
The floor is treated with a special film that makes it transparent when viewed at an angle, but clouded when viewed directly above or below, MVRDV said in a statement. This is intended to provide privacy and prevent vertigo for those standing on the floor.
“‘Unravelling beauty’ is almost a generic and eternal value that can be learned somehow from the world of lingerie. The revealing – but directional – glassification of the store allows for a delicate balance between transparency and privacy, for intimacy and distance, unravelling the beauty of Haussmann and Etam’s products, users, and visitors,” said MVRDV Founding Partner Winy Maas in a statement. “In the stores we design, we often like to try new, unexpected materials and love to play with different types of glass. The Etam flagship store is the first time we have brought these approaches to a building where so much of the existing structure must be maintained.”