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Before & After: A Courtyard Garden Brings Light to a Windowless Home

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Before & After: A Courtyard Garden Brings Light to a Windowless Home

January 26, 2022

We recently took note of a ridiculously chic abode—in the heart of Paris, of course—that had no outward-facing windows, just windows that looked inward toward a courtyard garden. The home belongs to Marie and Gilles Ballard (owners of jewelry company Medecine Douce) and was designed by architect Guillaume Terver of Le LAD (Laboratoire en Architecture and Design) to suit the needs of the couple and their two children.

There wasn’t much about the property that was appealing when Marie and Gilles first saw it. The single-floor, windowless former warehouse had been shimmied into the courtyard of a historic building. Their ingenious idea was to treat the structure like a box and remove the interior roof to create a courtyard garden in the center. Thankfully, their architect was on board with the plan and executed it with aplomb.

Let’s take a tour. (And be sure to scroll to the end to see the eye-opening before.)

Photography by Jean François Gaté, courtesy of Le LAD, unless noted.

Marie and Gilles&#8\2\17; home is in the \1\1th arrondissement, near the Bastille. Every room in it is oriented around this newly created courtyard. When the weather is mild, the family take their meals outside.
Above: Marie and Gilles’ home is in the 11th arrondissement, near the Bastille. Every room in it is oriented around this newly created courtyard. When the weather is mild, the family take their meals outside.
“We have a mix of aromatic plants, bamboo, and small trees,” says Gilles. (Read about the advantages of humble pea gravel in Hardscaping \10\1 and Everything You Need to Know About Gravel.) Photograph by Guillaume Terver.
Above: “We have a mix of aromatic plants, bamboo, and small trees,” says Gilles. (Read about the advantages of humble pea gravel in Hardscaping 101 and Everything You Need to Know About Gravel.) Photograph by Guillaume Terver.
The view from the living room. The courtyard is 387 square feet and the living space is \1,\270 square feet.
Above: The view from the living room. The courtyard is 387 square feet and the living space is 1,270 square feet.
Pine plywood was put to use throughout, including as frames for all the new glazing. “The main design idea was the use of low-tech materials and finding a natural aesthetic,” says Terver. Photograph by Guillaume Terver.
Above: Pine plywood was put to use throughout, including as frames for all the new glazing. “The main design idea was the use of low-tech materials and finding a natural aesthetic,” says Terver. Photograph by Guillaume Terver.
The view from the main bedroom.
Above: The view from the main bedroom.
The modern home is surrounded by \19th century apartment buildings.
Above: The modern home is surrounded by 19th century apartment buildings.
Floor plan courtesy of Le LAD.
Above: Floor plan courtesy of Le LAD.

Before

This is what the courtyard looked like pre-demolition, with a roof overhead. “Given the price of real estate in Paris, we had to find something that no one else wanted,” says Gilles. Photograph by Guillaume Terver.
Above: This is what the courtyard looked like pre-demolition, with a roof overhead. “Given the price of real estate in Paris, we had to find something that no one else wanted,” says Gilles. Photograph by Guillaume Terver.

For the whole house tour, see Indoor-Outdoor Living in Paris: A Windowless Warehouse Converted into a Family Loft, Central Courtyard Included.

For more on courtyard gardens, see:

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