Paris' New Scene (Pun intended)

07/02/2017 03:47 pm ET

A city of music in the City of Lights - A new icon of the 21st century.

In the middle of the Seine River and recently opened, as a new figurehead for the Seguin Island, La Seine Musicale was conceived by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines and was meant to reflect its industrial past.

The shape and curves of the structure cling to the lines of the island and play with the reflections of the water around it.

Seemingly sitting on water, the auditorium’s wooden body looks like it’s floating on the surrounding liquid. The massive sail has over 1000 square meters of photo-voltaic (PV) solar panels rotating around the wood trellis to follow the course of the sun.

This feast of engineering gives a unique identity to the project. Meant to become a new symbol at the west entrance of Paris and to reflect the eco-responsible attitude of the City of Lights.

The most striking feature.

La Seine Musicale’s egg-shaped auditorium is made of glass and timber lattice, and follows the path of the sun at 15-minute intervals, feeding the auditorium with energy.

Open to a natural environment, La Seine Musicale also wants to be known as a leisure and relaxation space for visitors and wanderers. Its indoor spaces are the perfect continuity of the outside and of the island. Several spots offer entrance/exit from inside to outside.

Terraces, open spaces, and a grand foyer offer about 1700 square meters for exhibitions, a bar, and boutiques, all related to music.

Several official agencies were called to certified to the eco-friendly labels of the building and its outdoor spaces.

Organic atmosphere.

While a unique and aesthetic object, La Seine Musicale will favor access to music for all with teaching and entertaining purposes accessible to everyone. The building is really meant to become a new neighborhood centered on musical offerings.

Depending on room configuration the place can have from 4000 seating arrangements to 6000 standing ones. The 1150-seat space is dedicated to the music of today, as well as classical.

In July, the Alvin Ailey dance company is in residence; in September the Mozart Requiem will be offered; West Side Story is coming in October; Toto will be there in March 2018.

Designed for non-amplified music, visibility is guaranteed from anywhere in the auditorium. The inside is made of warm wood with impeccable acoustics and panoramic views of the landscape around the outside.

“Usually concert halls are only open to ticket holders, but I wanted to open the building to the general public,” says architect Shigeru Ban. “I also installed a big screen at the entrance so that even without a ticket, people can come and enjoy the music.” That screen is so big it can be seen from two miles away.

Atop the building are acres of rooftop garden, plus a space for a resident orchestra as well as the Riffx recording/rehearsal studios. A voice school and practice studios are also available and open to all.

The public building is intended to blend interior to exterior space, to allow people to filter in and out organically. Rooted in traditional Japanese architecture, this style was originally planned by architect Jean Nouvel when he set out his master plan for the island in 2010.

Cars no more.

On the way to the palace of Versailles, the slim slice of land was once owned by Louis XV who acquired it as a playground for his children. It then became state property after the French Revolution.

Famed Louis Renault then used it for his first car factory, which opened in 1929 and closed in 1992. It was then demolished in 2005, leaving the island semi-abandoned. Covering almost the entire island, the factory was the largest in France, with 30,000 workers.

The city of Boulogne-Billancourt ordered a new project for the-then derelict island, to be planned by Nouvel.

Galleries and other cultural venues, as well as a hotel, are scheduled to appear on the tiny land around 2021.

Old Renault factory

More info:

1 Ile Seguin, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt; tel 011-33-1- 74 34 53 54.

Open 5 days a week, Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Handicapped-accessible inside and outside.

Security is enforced 24/7/365.

Closed for the annual 5-week French vacations, July 20 to Aug. 17.

Access by métro line 9 - station terminus Pont de Sèvres.

The empty island from above

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