Paris: Anne-Cécile Comar

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Architect Anne-Cécile Comar of Atelier du Pont.

Architect Anne-Cécile Comar of Atelier du Pont. Image: Hervé Goluza

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Comar at work with staff.

Comar at work with staff. Image: Hervé Goluza

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Architectural models and samples of building materials and finishes.

Architectural models and samples of building materials and finishes. Image: Hervé Goluza

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An architectural model in Atelier du Pont.

An architectural model in Atelier du Pont. Image: Hervé Goluza

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The exterior of the office in the 12th arrondissement.

The exterior of the office in the 12th arrondissement. Image: Hervé Goluza

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An architectural model in Atelier du Pont.

An architectural model in Atelier du Pont. Image: Hervé Goluza

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A meeting room at Atelier du Pont.

A meeting room at Atelier du Pont. Image: Hervé Goluza

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Red stairs lead up to the second level of the building.

Red stairs lead up to the second level of the building. Image: Hervé Goluza

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She’s no old woman, but Anne-Cécile Comar could erect a house from, and possibly live in, her shoe collection, which features about 20 pairs of Tila March and 40 other pairs of heels, boots and flats.

Thankfully, the well-dressed professional (sample outfit: Prada, Vanessa Bruno, H&M and, of course, March, the popular French accessories brand) has chosen other materials from which to build her portfolio as partner at the architecture firm Atelier du Pont, which she helped launch in 2007 and now has 25 employees.

Comar’s creations include Médiathèque library in Rennes, now an elite cultural centre, and the remodelling of a once-concrete courthouse in Bobigny into a predominantly glass-walled stucture. Currently, she is in the process of turning a 1960s’ parking garage in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt into a shopping and sports facility and working on two new housing developments slated for completion in 2014.

“We are a modern firm,” boasts Comar, 49, who strives for renewal and contemporary design in a city she feels is a bit stuck in time. “Paris is too much like a museum. People are very attached to the past. But it has to be dynamic and to change. There should be a dialogue between contemporary and ancient architecture, where each time period is represented.”

Her two-storeyed house is in the “touristy Latin Quarter”, where the centuries-old Sorbonne and Notre Dame just across the river draw oohs and ahhs for their architecture is a prime example of the contrast she aims to create. The mother of three designed her home with her husband (also an architect) as an urban oasis with a terrace big enough to hold her weekly workout session with a trainer and four girlfriends.

“Every Saturday, our coach comes and trains us in pilates and other exercises. It’s very hard because we talk a lot, so he gets mad,” says Comar with a laugh. Still, it’s part of her routine, which also sees her taking advantage of the city’s many native offerings, including buying organic legumes at Place Monge, a Sunday produce market in the 5th arrondissement. “I love my home in Paris,” she insists. “I don’t have to leave for anything and I will never leave for anything.”

Comar recommends:

  • A trip to Maison Grégoire boulangerie for traditional baguettes or fougasse with olives from Provence.
  • A visit to the Palais de Tokyo museum for playful, contemporary art that’s great for kids.
  • An aperitif at Très Honoré, the multi-roomed restaurant and salon lined with mirrored murals.

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