Connected House is an Architectural Experiment at the Edge of Paris

Connected House is an Architectural Experiment at the Edge of Paris

A Parisian family’s desire to grow old in a masterpiece results in The Connected House, an idiosyncratic project by architects Jakob + Macfarlane.

For the first ground-up house by Paris firm , the mandate was both clear and wildly open: create something “avant-garde, surprising and poetic, which will stand out from its conservative neighbours.” It is the ultimate client brief, and the owners of the Connected House got exactly what they asked for.

Situated in the leafy municipality of Boulogne-Billancourt, just beyond the western boundary of Paris, the sharply angled home of white enamelled metal and glass evokes a machine but takes its cues from the trees that surround it. The service core acts as the trunk; a tubular steel skeleton branches out to support the floors; and the faceted outer skin of enamelled aluminum panels takes the place of foliage.

Site map of Jakob + Macfarlane's Connected House

Dominique Jakob and Brendan Macfarlane designed the house for a young professional couple who admired their work, especially the FRAC Centre for contemporary arts in Orléans and the City of Fashion and Design on the Left Bank of the Seine River. “They knew that Boulogne-Billancourt was a crucible of modernism in the 1920s and ’30s – Le Corbusier’s apartment-atelier, Immeuble Porte Molitor, is just a block away – and they wanted to add to that legacy,” recalls Macfarlane.

A matrix of fractal planes from Jakob + Macfarlane's Connected House.

Typical of other projects by the firm, the exterior is a matrix of fractal planes and jutting rods. That pattern is echoed by the surrounding paving stones.

The couple also wanted to grow old in this new creation. They had already begun demolishing the house that formerly occupied the site but decided to keep the chauffeur’s cottage (located a few metres away) for their children when they were grown and for guests.

The architects could not exceed the height and mass of the old house, but were able to accommodate four floors a basement lap pool, as well as a rooftop terrace overlooking the city and the Bois de Boulogne. The fractured geometry of the facades – a hallmark of the architects’ work – is echoed by the angled concrete pavers that extend into the landscape and double as parking for the family’s electric cars.

The ceiling and pool in Jakob + Macfarlane's Connected House.

Left: The exoskeleton is carried inside as a ceiling detail. Offices are located on the mezzanine above the living room, where an On the Rocks Sofa by Edra takes centre stage, surrounded by artworks. Right: A lap pool in the basement connects the house with a guest house that already existed. Glass skylights were embedded in the garden above.

“We made multiple models that could be taken apart and played with,” explains Macfarlane. “The clients got it from the start, and the house is full of light and views coming in at different angles.”

Besides the pool, which extends beyond the floor plan and is naturally lit by glass skylights set amid the pavers, the basement also contains a screening room, a gymnasium and a wine cellar, service and mechanical areas. This frees up the rest of the 800-square-metre house for living areas: a kitchen and dining room on the ground floor, a double-height living room and terrace for entertaining on the second level, a pair of offices on the mezzanine above, and the family’s bedrooms on the top floor. An elevator links the five indoor levels.

A bird's eye view Jakob + Macfarlane's Connected House.

Unique residential projects like Connected House tend to get bogged down in review committee battles, but the mayor of Boulogne-Billancourt is actively supporting just this kind of architectural experimentation.

Macfarlane says he was encouraged by the support he received from other architects and from the members of the municipal design review committee, who wanted to know exactly how the house worked so that they could defend the project when neighbours raised objections, as usually happens with anything out of the ordinary. The mayor was eager that Boulogne-Billancourt continue to welcome experimental architecture. “We are creating tomorrow’s history,” he declared.


The Connected House

Single Family

Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Jakob + Macfarlane, Paris

Floor Area
800 sq. m

Site Area
977 sq. m


Alucobond, glass, poured-in place concrete

Interior Finishes
Concrete and French oak flooring, Stuv fireplace

This story was taken from the January / February 2018 issue of Buy a copy of the issue , or subscribe .

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