Off Paris Seine, Paris, France
OFF Paris Seine is a somewhat special hotel – it’s the first floating hotel in France, and the 246 feet long barge is not only environmentally friendly, it also houses intriguing design and funky elements, creating the ultimate river experience. Tonje Odegard from SPACE visited Paris to find out more…
The hotel, which opened in June 2016, was designed by Gerard Ronzatti, president and founder of Seine Design, the architect, interior designer and prime contractor of the project, who specialises in floating architectural solutions for waterways. He designed his first floating building already in 1987, the Maurice Chevalier, a pier at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Gerard was therefore a perfect choice for developer and project designer Christophe Gallineau of Citysurfing, to create the hotel concept – the feeling of living on water.
Situated at the foot of the Gare d’Austerlitz between Charles de Gaulle Bridge and the Austerlitz viaduct, the hotel contains 58 rooms, four of them suites. The impressively structured hotel, which only took one year to complete, feels intimate and small as you walk through it, yet spacious and airy. This is much helped by the minimalist design and giant glass roof at the centre of the property. Shaped in discreet contours, the property gently espouses the Seine. Set 32 feet from the riverbank and accessed via walkways from a marina, the elegant zinc roofs slant skywards opening the façades outwards, while the central glass ceiling, which almost works as an atrium, lets natural light into the heart of the vessel.
The architecture of this 100 per cent French-produced project is elegant and minimalistic. It’s based on twin hulls strongly connected together, on which two levels of modules are superimposed, forming a long and narrow facility. Each guestroom is a prefabricated module built in an external factory. The hotel adopts a discrete line since it respects a regulatory height from the water surface in order to get the best views of the river.
Sections of the façades accessed by the public celebrate transparency of volumes, while those dedicated to the hotel are clad with a silvery-wood finish, which blends naturally into the landscape. There are shutters on the façade, giving it some relief and vibration. Using noble, enduring materials such as wood, copper, leather, glass and zinc, and warm colours in a coppery shade, the hotel feels organic and timeless.
The design of the hotel is uncluttered, simplistic and modern. There is a theme of brass and copper with a strong presence of curvy and circular shapes.
The Seine is the spinal cord of Paris and operates with the same function for OFF Seine hotel – it’s the building’s primary structure. Everything has been thought out to make this urban river experience as authentic as possible. The supple articulation in the hulls creates a motion akin to rocking, but because of the sturdy structure and the gentle motion of the river water, it’s not overpowering. As you walk through the centre of the hotel, you can hear the sloshing of the water beneath you through the open grids, reminding you where you are while creating a soothing atmosphere. The permanent relationship between the hotel and the water is magnified at night by the help of impressive lighting design by Franck Franjou.
The restaurant has capacity for 100 people and the outdoor terrace is large and offers excellent views of the river and banks. The 32-feet swimming pool on the summer terrace further enhances the river experience on the boat. The terrace, and the aft, is built just above the water line, whereas the pool’s surface is in line with the river’s water surface, giving an alluring effect and an unobstructed view of the river and its surroundings.
Lobby and public areas
As you enter the hotel, the reception area feels intimate, yet spacious at the same time. With a minimalist and clear Scandinavian style, there are wooden floors throughout in a mellow shade.
The brass furniture and the mirrored ceiling in the bar and lobby add an elegant and luxurious feel. The brass theme is continued with the impressive chandelier suspended over the reception desk.
The side of the hotel that contains the lobby, bar, restaurant and summer terrace resemble a barge, and hinting gently to the water theme are the curtains that give associations to waves and ripples.
The majority of the guestrooms have a river view – on one side, an atypical view of the Seine riverbanks and the historic Paris Austerlitz railway station, on the other, a blend of urban and Seine life with the gentle dawn to dusk toing and froing of barges.
OFF Seine has four suites, the two Horizon Suites and two Designer Suites. The Horizon Suites have double panoramic views of the Seine at the prow.
The Designer Suites, the monochromatic Sunset Suite and the Silver Suite, have been designed by Maurizio Galante and Tal Lancman respectively. The Sunset Suite is entirely orange in its colour – walls, ceiling, tub, furniture, and bed. Other details and furniture are in brass or wood, almost appearing orange. The orange curtains moreover provide a sunset glow over the room, creating a very stylish and interesting area.
The Silver Suite is mellower in colour, but equally stylish. The majority of the interior is in silver, metal and white. Adding a bit of vitality to the room are the details in yellow – the free-standing bathtub and wash basins. In the ceiling over the bed is a constellation of small, circular mirrors, which gives associations to bubbles and almost functions as an art piece. Circular shapes are seen elsewhere in the room too in lamps, mirrors and furniture.
The remaining guestrooms are fairly uniformly designed – minimally and with wooden floors. The colour scheme is dark, woody and brassy. Fun details such as wavy patterns on the headboards of bed hinting at the water theme, show thoughtfulness in the design.
With water being the backbone of this property, the hotel has been respectful of it by implementing a number of green innovations to reduce water and energy consumption. For instance, vacuum toilets have been installed, which has a reduced water consumption of up to 82 per cent compared to traditional toilets.
Heat pumps fuelled by the surrounding water heat up the rooms. The thermal exchange between the waters of the hotel and the river has a very efficient output. There is also a dual flow of ventilation from heat recovery from the rooms’ exhaust air.
The use of sustainable and recyclable materials, such as wood, steel, glass and zinc, furthermore participate to the hotel’s sustainability. The modular architecture used for the guestroom also has various benefits for the environment, for instance in terms of material savings and carbon footprint reduction.
OFF Seine Paris embodies the initial ambition Gérard had for the property – to offer an exemplary architecture and a unique experience for the greatest number of people – the experience of living on water.