Inaugurated in 1929, for 60 years MOLITOR was the most popular swimming baths in Paris until its official closure in 1989, after which it was listed as a Historical Monument. Now Molitor’s indoor pool and lido complex has been given another life, reopening as part of a luxury hotel and spa which interior’s renovation project was commissioned to Jean-Philippe Nuel.
The Hôtel Molitor Paris now occupies a building substantially reinvented by Alain Derbesse Architectes, which worked under the supervision of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux to virtually demolish what remained, then reconstruct it and add two guest levels on top for a total of 124 rooms and suites, plus a roof terrace with a summer restaurant.
The design of the Molitor hotel pays homage to its rich legacy, after being an Art Deco icon, then a graffiti destination. Original features, such as leaded-glass windows, mosaics, and lamps in the restaurant, remain. Fragments of the street-art-blanketed structure were transferred to large decorative panels and carpets that adorn the meeting and dining areas. The distinctive yellow paint on the façade was brought to the fore again, and, where possible, original Art Deco vitrines were reinstalled.
The Conversion Of The Molitor By Agence Nuel.
The interior design of the new Molitor draws upon a dialogue between its Art Deco tradition and its history since its closure, during which it has become a world-renowned spot for street art.
The focus of the entrance lobby is the famous Rolls Royce tagged by graffiti artist JonOne, a great reminder of the buildings ‘street art’ period. Like the exposed services criss-crossing the ceiling, this emblematic car is a natural extension of the urban quality of the project, anchored in the city.
These ‘unfinished’, ‘street art’ and ‘urban’ touches form a striking contrast to the more refined details: the desks look like little 1930s pill boxes, the curtains structure the interior spaces and bring a softness to the otherwise urban feel, suspended mirrors set up a play with the exposed services on the ceiling as well as providing multiple reflections of JonOne’s Rolls Royce.
Characterised by the 1930s ceiling that has been restored to its original state, the restaurant has been conceived as a ‘conversion’ space: a historic space becomes an art gallery, an ephemeral restaurant where large-scale photographs by Thomas Jorion show the graffiti-covered walls before demolition.
Enlarged in this way, the graffiti is like a contemporary abstract painting, and by taking the same graphic approach, it sets up a dialogue with the historic stained-glass by Damon and Turlan.
Molitor’s 104 rooms and 20 suites, all of which look out onto the Summer Pool , have a voluntarily soothing atmosphere, in pale colours enlivened with a piece of art that again evokes the Molitor.
The bedrooms are conceived as a haven of peace turned to the inside of the project. Placing the bed at an angle is designed to break with the tradition of the formal hotel bedroom, expressing instead the informal nomadic character here.
Also the choice of the ceramic tiles used for the bathrooms reveals a tacit reference to the Art Deco character of the site and its graffiti culture. Indeed, for the floors and wall coverings Agence Nuel selected the Graffiti porcelain tile collection by Ceramiche Refin with its scratched surfaces inspired by street art.
Spa and sports facilities.
The spa and the sports facilities occupy generous spaces over two levels of the building. They mix a crisp contemporary signature with a contrasting series of ‘scenes’ that punctuate the space. They introduce a historic and very personal counterpoint, particularly through the use of vintage pieces, be they furniture, old pieces of sports apparatus, or architectural elements (glass and metal screens) introduced into the design.