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Coupe d’une maison parisienne

This is an interesting article by ArchDaily, looking at the “evolution of the house plan in Europe” between 1760 and 1939. The article focuses on London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Moscow and includes floor plans, photographs, as well as well-known illustrations like the one shown above. Created by Bertall in 1845, the drawing shows a section through a Parisian house and is called The Five Floors of the Parisian World.

What it shows is the declining opulence that used to exist in Paris’ apartment blocks as you moved upward. If you were rich, you lived on the second floor, right above the ground floor lobby. The ceilings were higher on this floor and maybe had a balcony overlooking the street. If you lived on the third floor it meant that you were a less rich. And if you lived in the top floor attic, you were poor. That is what this comic is showing.

Now, all of this changed over time as new technologies, namely the elevator, were brought to multi-family buildings. All of a sudden it became convenient to live higher up and all of a sudden people wanted better views and to get further away from the chaos of the street. What I’m curious about, though, is how posterity dealt with the lower ceiling heights on these upper floors.

4 Comments

  1. Jon C

    Otis’s elevator demonstration was in 1853, Haussmann’s Paris plan started in 1854. So most of the 19th century buildings of Paris along the Boulevards with larger suites for the wealthy upper floor dwellers probably post-date the cartoon. A lot of these old walk-ups were probably torn down.

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  2. Mahasti Eslahjou

    The apartment on the ground floor was for the “Concierge” whose job was to clean the common areas, collect and distribute mail, and keep an eye on comings and goings. The stereotype of “La Concierge” – because mostly a woman – was a nosey, nagging and unpleasant person, but one who would know everything about everyone in the building.

    The tiny units at the very top floor, are called “Chambre de Bonne” which means “The Maid’s Room” because, well they were the room of the maids who worked for the families living in the building. They consist of one single room of about 10 square meters. This makes them some of the most affordable spaces in Paris today, highly coveted by students. They are still referred to as “Chambre de Bonne”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chambre_de_bonne

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  3. The apartment on the ground floor was for the “Concierge” whose job was to clean the common areas, collect and distribute mail, and keep an eye on comings and goings. The stereotype of “La Concierge” – because mostly a woman – was a nosey, nagging and unpleasant person, but one who would know everything about everyone in the building.

    The tiny units at the very top floor, are called “Chambre de Bonne” which means “The Maid’s Room” because, well they were the room of the maids who worked for the families living in the building. They consist of one single room of about 10 square meters. This makes them some of the most affordable spaces in Paris today, highly coveted by students. They are still referred to as “Chambre de Bonne”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chambre_de_bonne

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: From back of house to front of house – BRANDON DONNELLY

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