The château de Maisons was built in 1643 by François Mansart for the president of the Parisian parliament René de Longueil. In the 17th century, the two principle façades of the castle were treated differently: to the west, a vast first courtyard preceded the castle entrance courtyard; on the eastern front, a garden ran right down to the Seine.

This composition was maintained until 1830 when the banker Jacques Laffitte, owner of the site, decided to sacrifice part of the gardens and courtyard and to transform these into housing for himself. The effect of this was a greater proximity of the castle and the town, considerably modifying the perception of François Mansart’s original design. The western courtyard is today in the town centre and on the Seine side, the bridge built in the axis of the composition has made of the monument an entrance signal into the town.

The project consisted in illuminating the facades of the castle, an opportunity to reveal, thanks to night-time lighting, the founding architectural elements of the original design and to offer a different vision from the day view. On the castle, a uniform halo underlines the equilibrium of the composition, the central entrance left purposefully unlit to accentuate its transparency. The town and Seine fronts were illuminated in such a way as to rediscover some of the original composition of gardens and courtyards. The principle courtyard is flooded with light making the design of the roof-lines appear clearly; in the gardens, light is shed on the lateral alignment of the trees, suggesting a movement towards the river.

Lighting at the Château de Maisons Laffitte
Maisons Laffitte (78) - F
Maîtrise d'œuvre
h2o architectes with Stéphane Servant (lead consultant for lighting) and Egis Amenagement (engineer)
Maîtrise d'ouvrage
Centre des Monuments Nationaux
Building classified Historical Monuments
Delivered september 2012
Stéphane Chalmeau