Saturday, 5 September 2009
Jean-Paul Gaultier is probably one of the best known Frenchman abroad. We thought the 80s were his heyday, but apparently his perfumes are now amongst the world's best-sellers, and despite coming up to his 60th birthday in a few years time he looks surprisingly spritely (as well as coming off as rather a nice bloke).
Anyway, on the route from our apartment to the Great Apartment are his head offices, and rather splendid they look too, from the outside I mean (I've never gone in). The building was recently cleaned (and extremely quickly at that, taking only a couple of days) and I had to take some shots of it for you. The stone- and metalwork is lovely, and the place is obviously a testament to his wealth, as he seems to have the whole bloomin' building to himself. Makes our 17m2 look modest indeed.
The building dates from 1912 and belonged to a philanthropic company called "l'Avenir du Prolétariat" (the future of the people) which had 200,000 benefactors, investments in over 40 other buildings, and the vision of using its profits to make sure that those with little means of support had a pension. Their inscriptions can still be seen carved into the façade and on the corner of the block (which is now owned by someone else).
The Jean-Paul Gaultier building bit spans 5,000m2, has seven floors, a monumental staircase and a ballroom that is 380m2 (60 metres long, 14 metres wide and a ceiling 11 metres high)! That's over twenty times the size of our apartment, dammit! Despite this amazing architecture, strangely enough it isn't even a protected building.
I was intrigued to see inside, and after searching around the web I found a few photographs of during and after the massive restoration work that was done in 2004 by architects Moatti and Rivière. The dimensions are pretty impressive (as is the price of the work done: 7.3 million euros / $10.4 million / £6.4 million) ...
The finished version looks like this:
You can see more on the photographer's site: Sophie Elbaz. Click 'English version', then choose 'The Abyss'.
By the way, the Gaultier building (map here) is opposite one corner of the equally splendid Arts et Métiers building, but there's whole other post to be done on that...
And of course we've added the Gaultier building to our wonderful Google Map of all things excellent near the Great Apartment here.