Thursday, February 11, 2010

An architect for 12 euros per square metre?

French architects, tired of being seen as expensive and beyond the reach of ordinary users, are hitting back with a series of initiatives designed to demystify the profession and offer a number of low-cost alternatives.

They have been helped by popular TV programmes such as 'Question Maison' on M6 and in particular the part of the programme 'SOS Maison' which features the work of young Paris-based architect Philippe Demougeot DPLG, author of three books and a specialist is re-designing small spaces. The programme receives 3,000 requests a week for his help, in which he visits a small apartment or studio, and proposes a design solution. Part of the cost of the building work is borne by the programme.

In February, Le Figaro newspaper described two new internet-based services, in which clients can submit room plans and pictures by email to a central office, and receive in return the services of a low-cost architect. This will include a basic design, recommended suppliers and artisans, and choice of furniture (

The second online service ( offers a series of design packages, ranging from just over 1000 euros to under 2000 euros, from a single room to studios, apartments and houses. The studio package costs 1189 euros tax included, and includes a visit by an architect, a plan up to 35m², two concept illustrations and an estimate of costs of the building work.

Le Figaro suggests that these low-cost services may be particularly attractive to intending buyers wanting to explore the potential of a property before committing themselves.

For more information consult the above websites; also Philippe Demougeot's two recent books 'SOS Maison avant et après' (2006) and 'SOS Maison libérons l'espace' (2007), both Editions Hoebeke, Paris; 'Questions Maison'; also the excellent series 'Archi Pas Chère' published by Edtions Ouest-France, which feature architect designed houses that cost under 100,000 euros, and a third volume on low-cost home extensions.