What is Haussmannian Style? A Guide to Elegant Parisian Architecture

Haussmannian style refers to the architectural style that was popularized in Paris under the directive of Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann during the mid 19th century. This style is essentially a blend of classic Greek and Roman architecture with a French twist. The Haussmann architecture was characterized by grand, elegant structures, typically with stone facades, wrought-iron elements, and numerous balconies. Here are some key features of Haussmannian architecture:
  • Symmetry: Haussmannian buildings are typically characterized by their symmetrical design, with a central entrance, flanked by two identical wings.
  • High Ceilings: Another distinguishing feature of Haussmannian style is the high ceilings, often reaching up to four or five meters high.
  • Ornate Balconies and Railings: Haussmannian architecture often boasts ornate balconies and wrought-iron railings that add to the overall elegance of the structure.
  • Building Materials: Haussmannian buildings are typically made of stone or cut stone, which is why they are so durable and long-lasting.
  • Mansard Roofs: Finally, many Haussmannian buildings feature Mansard roofs, which allow for additional living space.
  • Overall, Haussmannian style is the ultimate expression of Parisian elegance and sophistication and is still highly sought after in the 21st century.

    What is Haussmannian Style?

    The Haussmannian style of architecture originated in the mid-19th century during the reign of Napoleon III in France. Specifically, it is named after Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the famous French urban planner who transformed the streets of Paris into the grand boulevards it is now known for. Haussmannian style, also known as Les grands ensembles, is characterized by grand, elegant structures with stone facades, wrought-iron elements, and elaborate ornamentation. This style, which has become synonymous with Parisian architecture, has inspired buildings all around the world.
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    Origins of Haussmannian Style

    The Haussmannian style of architecture was born out of a desire to modernize the city of Paris. In the mid-19th century, the streets of Paris were narrow, winding, and often dark. Haussmann, a civil servant appointed by Emperor Napoleon III, was tasked with the job of renovating the city’s streets. Haussmann’s plan was to create new boulevards that were wide, straight, and lined with grand buildings. These buildings were to be constructed in a style that would be both modern and fashionable. Under Haussmann’s watchful eye, the city of Paris underwent a massive transformation. Haussmann oversaw the construction of over 80 miles of new streets, the creation of new parks, and the development of the city’s infrastructure. He also enforced strict regulations on the appearance of buildings, leading to the development of the grand, ornate Haussmannian style.

    Key Characteristics of Haussmann Architecture

    Haussmannian architecture is characterized by a few key design elements. These include:
    • Grand, elegant structures with stone facades
    • Elaborate ornamentation on building facades
    • Large windows, often with wrought-iron balconies
    • Rooflines with intricate molding and slate tiles
    • Tall ceilings and spacious rooms
    These elements give Haussmannian buildings a sense of grandeur and elegance that has become synonymous with the Parisian style.

    Materials Used in Haussmannian Buildings

    The materials used in Haussmannian buildings were chosen for their durability, as well as their ability to add to the ornate appearance of the buildings. The most commonly used materials include:
    • Stone: Typically limestone, which was and still is abundant in the Paris region
    • Brick: Used for interior walls and some exteriors
    • Wood: Used for windows and doors
    • Cast iron: Used for balconies, railings, and decorative elements
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    All these materials are still commonly used today, but Haussmannian buildings are especially notable for their use of cast iron elements.

    Wrought-Iron Elements in Haussmannian Style

    The use of wrought-iron elements is one of the most distinctive features of Haussmannian style. These elements were chosen for their ability to add intricate ornamentation to the buildings without adding extra weight. Some of the most common wrought-iron elements found in Haussmannian buildings include:
    • Balconies
    • Railings
    • Window grilles
    • Lamp posts
    These elements are often highly decorative, with intricate scrollwork and other ornate designs. They give Haussmannian buildings a sense of lightness and delicacy that is in contrast to the heavy stone facades.

    Influence of Haussmann on Parisian Architecture

    Haussmann’s work had a profound influence on the architecture of Paris. His wide boulevards and grand buildings became a model for urban planning around the world. The Haussmannian style was also influential in the development of other architectural styles, such as Art Deco and Art Nouveau. The ornate, highly decorative nature of Haussmannian buildings inspired many artists and designers of the time. Today, the Haussmannian style remains an important part of Parisian architecture. Many of the city’s most famous buildings, such as the Opera Garnier, were built in this style. Although the style has evolved over time, the legacy of Haussmann’s work can still be seen in the grand, elegant buildings that line the streets of Paris.

    Modern Applications of Haussmannian Style

    The Haussmannian style is still popular today, both in Paris and around the world. Architects and designers continue to draw inspiration from the grand, elegant buildings of the past. Contemporary buildings often incorporate elements of the Haussmannian style, such as wrought-iron balconies or ornate stone facades.
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    One example of a modern application of Haussmannian style is the Haussmannian box apartment. These apartments are designed to mimic the spacious rooms and grand architecture of Haussmannian buildings, while still incorporating modern amenities. They are popular with those who appreciate the elegance of the Haussmannian style but prefer the convenience of modern living. In conclusion, Haussmannian architecture is characterized by its grand, elegant structures, stone facades, and wrought-iron elements. This style was developed in mid-19th century Paris as part of a massive urban renovation project. The Haussmannian style has become synonymous with Parisian architecture, and its influence can be seen in buildings all around the world. Although it has evolved over time, the Haussmannian style remains a beloved part of Parisian culture and architecture.

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