A hotel-style club
When Arthur and Frank Elie Benzaquen began working on the project for the Klay, the Paris sports club that rewrote the rulebook for this kind of business, they were certainly not naïve visionaries. Behind them they had the expertise passed on from their parents, who in 1985 opened the Ken club, as well as their own personal experience in relaunching this legendary club when they themselves joined the management. Carrying through the project required years of study in close cooperation with architect Cyril Durand Behar for the architectural work and art director Stéphane Goddard for colours and graphic design. “Audacity, originality and creativity” are the terms proposed by the founders to describe their approach to the search for an unconventional location, to the extensive remodelling work, to the definition of a management concept and to the programming of new contents. These were the factors that assured the immediate success of the Klay, which just a few months since opening now counts more than 1,900 members. First and foremost was the concept. Although the Klay was conceived as a sports club, it was also designed to be a welcoming venue for cultivating the art of living, where the physical fatigue, hard work and discipline required for sports activities would be tempered by amenities on a par with those of a high-end hotel. Like a luxury hotel but without ostentation, the Klay offers customised hospitality, a lobby, a lounge bar, a spa, Turkish baths, massage booths, a business centre and a restaurant.
The second important factor was the venue, an old nineteenth century industrial building reminiscent of the interior of Les Halles with metal girders, wooden stairs and glass ceilings. Following the meticulous remodelling work that maintained the original features, the previously insignificant building that served as an armaments foundry has been given a strong identity. This is evident right from street level with the illuminated signs leading to the club. From the entrance, the next stop is the lounge, graced by vintage furniture and sports accessories from all over the world. The coloured sheen of the Steelwork Argento floor tiles from Ceramica Fioranese defines the tone of the entire space. In the restaurant zone the walls with facing bricks and furniture, in some cases assembled with nailed building site planks, serve as a reminder of the building’s previous industrial function. The approximately 2,000 square metre space of the Klay is structured on five levels. On the basement floor, an intimate and cosy space houses a functional swimming pool complete with side jets and front cascade. Alongside are located the spa, Turkish baths, sauna, showers and changing rooms. The floor and wall tiling consists of Pietra Piasentina Argentata and Ramata tiles from Ceramiche Coem, a LEED certified porcelain tile that enhances the spectacular appeal of the brick vault ceiling supported by stone columns. On the first floor, a visually striking room with perforated raw sheet steel walls (a tribute to the New York gyms of the 1970s) and flooded with natural light is devoted to fitness and dance. The second floor is the realm of muscle-building equipment and machines. On a raised platform in the centre stands a boxing ring which when necessary can be transformed into a podium for various events. The third and last floor is devoted to cardio fitness activities, with innovative equipment complete with 19″ screens, games, USB slots, DVD players, iPod docks and aroma diffusers to alleviate the tedium of physical exercise. The five levels are connected vertically by the delightful period goods lift which Cyril was keen to preserve.
Steel and Silver
61X61, 30.5X61, 10X61