Town planning

La Seine Musicale a new concert center for musical voyages

The first major project in the redevelopment of the Ile Seguin, La Seine Musicale will be opened in late April by Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan . This brand new and impressive concert hall in the west of Paris is the brainchild of the local regional authority - the Département des Hauts-de-Seine. Whether you're a music lover or an architecture buff, it's well worth a visit.

The first thing that comes to mind on seeing La Seine Musicale – a long, 36,500 sq.m. concrete “vessel” moored downstream of the Ile Seguin in Boulogne-Billancourt – is a huge liner, permanently anchored in harbor, but ready to take you on a voyage of musical discovery. This music complex was designed by the same architects as the surprising Pompidou de Metz – Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines. What’s immediately striking about the design is its hallmark “squashed sphere” made of wood and glass, partially covered by a rather strange 45-meter-high sail composed of 800 sq.m. of photovoltaic panels and mounted on rails to follow the sun. Inside, the second-floor auditorium seating 1,150 people is dedicated to acoustic music. Acoustics experts from Nagata and Jean-Paul Lamoureux were responsible for sound quality, both here and in the other auditorium, the black-covered Grande Seine, for amplified music. With a capacity for 4,000 to 6,000 people, it’s more than a match for concert halls like the Zénith in Paris. The building is designed like a small town, with a broad street running through it. “The street fits seamlessly into the island’s urban layout,” explain the architects. “It’s on exactly the same axis as the “grand galerie” by Jean Nouvel. We wanted to carefully work in the existing urban layout because the whole island needs to be harmonious.” Lit by natural daylight from picture windows, it is lined with stores selling cultural products, a restaurant, bars, a jazz club and the like. A vast lobby emerges in the middle of the street, giving access to private areas, including a champagne bar. A terrace with views over the Seine brings the street to a fitting close. There are plans to place sculptures here in the future, including a “new” work by Rodin called Défense de Paris (a tribute to the victims of the Prussian invasion in 1870) made using a plaster model conserved at the Musée de Meudon, which is dedicated to the artist. In addition to the terrace, gangways run along the building on the river side. These walks are open to the public, like the building’s interior, and the Bellini garden above all, which can be accessed from inside the building or via a grand staircase from the square. It contains 7,410 sq.m. of plants typical of the Seine embankments. Shaped like an undulating slope, the garden affords original views over the sphere, island and river banks opposite. It’s an ideal spot from which to take in the future works.

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La Seine Musicale

Île Seguin, 92100, Boulogne-Billancourt Phone : +33 (0)1 74 34 53 54 www.laseinemusicale.com
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The Ile Seguin saga

Let’s start with a little geography lesson: very close to Paris, on a 11.5 hectare site, in a meander of the Seine, the Ile Seguin is downstream of the Ile Saint-Germain and its park. Part of the city of Boulogne-Billancourt, you can get here by metro – Pont de Sèvres – or the T2 tramway, not far from Saint-Cloud park. Once farmland, it became a fashionable place to walk, and was purchased by Louis XV. From the end of the 18th century onwards, it was home to wash houses and tanneries, including one run by a certain Monsieur Armand Seguin, as well as places of entertainment, such as riverside dancehalls and boating docks. It was then bought by the automobile manufacturer Louis Renault who built a giant factory there in 1929. It closed in 1992 and demolition began in 2004. The île Seguin-Rives de Seine project was then launched to redevelop three areas of Boulogne-Billancourt: the Trapèze (37.5 hectares), the Pont de Sèvres neighborhood (15 and 10 hectares) and the Ile Seguin. The design entered by the Ateliers Jean Nouvel was selected out of a number of proposals. By the 2020s, in addition to La Seine Musicale, the complex should include an arts center, a multiplex and a hotel decorated with works by emerging artists. Crossed by a large street, the island will also feature stores, offices, and gardens designed by Michel Desvigne – although there have been temporary gardens on the site since 2010.

By Michel Doussot. Photos : Philippe Guignard/Air-Images.net / Laurent Blossier / Denis Lacharme - Published the

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