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  • The 21st-Century Gate of Paris

    La Seine Musicale

    Architects: Shigeru Ban, Jean de Gastines
    Text: Eszter Götz
    Photos: Laurent Blossier, Nicolas Grosmond, Quentin Boulegon

    On the western border of Paris, on Ile Seguin, which is a small island of the River Seine, and had been known for a long time as the rust zone, La Seine Musicale was opened as a new cultural complex in 2017. With this building a model targeting at a 21st century urban lifestyle moved to the capital city of France. Those appreciating it rate the new music palace along with the Eiffel Tower and the Pompidou Centre. The international design contest published in 2013 was won by the project submitted by Shigeru Ban who teamed up with his French colleague, designer Jean de Gastines. This is the scheme La Seine Musicale is based on. Occupying one third of the area of the island, the music palace is surrounded by a concrete wall, which is a component evoking the industrial past of the site. From the tip of the island, wide stairways lead up to the monumental gate, where also a ramp provides access above the ground-floor concrete archade along the side of the building. The latter also leads us to the promenade along the riverbank. The gate is flanked by two monumental lateral wings projecting forward. The widely spanning mass reminds us of an elegant yacht design with its silhouette. The analogous forms are also manifest in the most spectacular component of the music complex: the egg-shaped auditorium seated on the horizontal mass is defined by triangular glass panes and graced by a huge „sail” motif. The triangular arch is wrapped in solar panels, and can be moved along a rail system so as to protect the concert hall against direct radiation from the sun. The whole structure is a large-scale experiment meant to reconcile the landscape and the city, the bustling, busy and intimate, the high-tech and the organic extremities of a modern city.

    Architects: Shigeru Ban, Jean de Gastines
    Landcape artist: Bassinet Turquin Paysage