rue Louis Bonnet district 11 Paris
The conservatory of music, dance, and theatre, with a simple, and yet vigorous expression of a prism inserted in the ground alongside a linear patio; bounded with an open entry, is aimed to reflect the following three urban insertion principles:
To express the image of an enjoyable public facility opening to the city
To balance with a sensible entity to its complex environmental, social, and urban context (such as building density, neighbourhood, and urban regulations)
To offer a public open space, as a ‘parvis’, by broadening the rue de Solferino as it liberates from the functional constraints of the conservatory (such as the access, logistics, and the receded façades… etc.)
The auditorium, occupies the total width of the site, is situated at the end of its parcel in order to conserve the major views to the streetscape.
The façade facing the street expresses discreetly its various functions on the interior through a selection of different widths of its bay windows. The screen walls as a filter between the training room, the music garden, and the drama art rehearsal room, protect the privacy from the views on the exterior ground floor.
A sunken garden, as incorporated to the receded façade, illuminates its surrounding interior space in the basement, and enhances the disposition of the entrance introduced by a bridge of 5 meters in width.
The project is developed with a rational and methodological logic in order to bring coherence to the urban insertion principles while satisfying the facility`s functional imperatives.
The design offers a generous natural illuminating condition for the interior space which includes all vertical circulations.
The design principle of the building is based on the idea of a prism entity which its real limites suggesting its virtual envelope of subtracted elements. Each of the void created (such as the sunken gardens, the lateral courtyard, equipment space in the ceiling on top of the stage area) is providing a natural illuminating condition specific to every floor (the dance on the 3rd floor, tutti/ancient music on the 2nd floor, the entrance hall on the ground floor, and the large rehearsal area in the basement). The unity of the prism is revealed by decomposing the functional units expressed on the roof plan and the elevation of the façade.
The building can, therefore, be decomposed in two vertical layers, parallel to the street and separated by a service band associating to its horizontal and vertical circulation, such as staircases, elevators, and all sanitary facilities.
The ground as a horizontal ‘drifting element’ illuminated by the exterior patios and sunken gardens extends the building limit under the public open space in liaison with its vertical distributions.
The rooms designed for the public, such as the auditorium, recording studios, and music studios, are hence connected on the same floor.
The main access walkway at the entrance as firmly aground is leading the parvis with its consistent width towards the lobby where a view is framing at the auditorium.
The lobby, with a height of more than three meters, is benefiting a privileged natural zenithal lighting at the heart of the building which also benefits from a view to the lateral courtyard. This lobby, as situated in the center of the building, provides an immediate access to the auditorium, musical training areas, and reception space around.
The façade of the building consists of double layered skin in respond to acoustic requirements.
The glazed areas consist of two chassis separated by an empty space in which a roller blind is integrated and hidden behind.
The exterior screen walls in thermos-coated metal is designed to ensure a sun and visual protection for certain areas. The opaque area consists of rigid panels in lacquered metal. These areas situated on the ground floor, are not accessible except the glazed bay windows in the lobby, and hence, require no particular arrangement to avoid vandalism.
The hall of the new conservatory is flexible and multi-functional. Therefore, this multidisciplinary space provides an accommodating different spectators of all types of music (such as the chamber music, orchestra, jazz, amplified music… etc.), of theatre, of lyrics, of opera, of dance, of life show… etc.
The audience seating area in the hall is organized in the way that every spectator is sharing a frontal view towards the stage, with no balconies, but integrated stage area with a ditch area for the orchestra. The organization of the bleachers with retractable seats allows the stage area and the seating capacity to be flexible.
The design favors a great organizational clarity through a simple and straightforward distributive principle articulated on the central position of the lobby, and vertical/horizontal circulations.
Eric Babin and Jean-François Renaud are calmly following a singular pathway, delivering rigorous and engaged products freed from the tyranny of fashion. They founded their agency nearly twenty years ago after winning a European-wide competition, since then they have developed an architectural style that is as grounded in context as it is abstract and theoretical. Holding dear to the concept that a building should occupy a proper place in its setting and perfecting new architectural types derived from analyzing each program, Babin + Renaud carry out projects of scale with highly varied remits, e.g. housing, of course, in complex social fabrics on symbolically significant sites such as Paris’ Les Batignolles, Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen. They also tackle mixed projects, office buildings or extensive public facilities like the cultural center Les Quinconces that the agency has just delivered in Le Mans. Éric Babin and Jean-François Renaud are also teaching in Paris' Belleville University.