Shigeru Ban & Jean de Gastines Architectes chosen for latest Ile Seguin development
For years an island on the River Seine was home to an industrious Renault factory, churning out cars to a thriving city. In 2005 the manufacturing plant closed for business and a question mark hung over the future of Ile Seguin. It was soon decided that the island was to become a destination for culture and the arts, and in 2001 Tadao Ando won a competition to design the Pinault Foundation Contemporary Art Museum. This was never seen through to completion.
In 2009, French architect Jean Nouvel was selected to draw up a masterplan for the redevelopment of Ile Seguin with cultural, retail and social elements. Nouvel’s leafy, light-rich development was shelved and a new competition was launched years later for a centre for the production and performance of music. It has now been announced that this competition has been won by Shigeru Ban and local practice Jean de Gastines Architectes, whose 36,500 sq m concept is moulded to the ship-like shape of the island.
The competition website compares Paris to cities such as London, Rome and Hamburg whose cultural centres are alive with local people and international tourists engaging in local music, expressing an interest in creating a similar feel on the currently unused island. Under the themes ‘culture for all’ and ‘excellence for all’, the winning design wraps clusters of spaces for the creation and performance of music in public walkways and open-air channels such as fitness trails and ‘cultural walks’.
At the ‘hull’ of the site, visitors will find a wooden structure which ‘seems to float on the river’ in Shigeru Ban’s signature style. Within this wooden bulb is the auditorium volume, capable of seating 1,100 spectators. This venue has been designed with the optimum acoustics for the performance of unamplified classical and contemporary music. Rotating around the exterior of the form is a 1,000 sq m sheath of solar panels which follow the path of the sun for optimum energy generation.
Alongside this 1,100-seat auditorium is a main theatre that can seat up to 6,000 spectators. This intelligently-designed space can be quickly and easily adapted and downsized to 4,000 seats and, due to retractable bleachers, can accommodate 6 shows in 48 hours, more than any existing facility in France. A series of supporting facilities are also destined for the site including exhibition spaces, 2,660 sq m of conference and business facilities, a playground, shops, restaurants, recording studios and open parkland. Construction is due to begin in March 2014 with the opening planned for April 2016.