There are some things Parisians are willing to compromise on: fashion, cuisine, and architecture. And following this trend, Paris gets a new iconic, contemporary building; this Paris monument comes as the city’s new modernist addition and is finally open to the public. Meet La Seine Musicale.
La Seine Musicale is a music and performing arts center located on Île Seguin an island on the Seine river, in the western suburbs of Paris. It beautifully merges a historic setting with an iconic example of contemporary French design. In 2009 the lead coordinating architect for the project was named as Jean Nouvel although individual buildings have subsequently been commissioned from a range of international architectural practices. The initial complex of buildings on the island opened in April 2017 and was designed by the architectural team of Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines. The facilities include an elevated egg-shaped auditorium for classical music, a larger modular concert hall, rehearsal rooms and an extensive roof garden.
The massive egg-shaped structure is made of glass and lattice of timber laminate, its most notable feature being a “solar sail” which uses 470 photovoltaic panels on movable rails that follow the sun and supply the theater with energy. Taking up a third of the island, the music hall was designed for the public, so even those who don’t buy tickets to concerts can view them on a giant screen at the building’s entrance that can be seen from almost two miles away.
Pitzker-prize winner Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines were adamant about maintaining the island’s industrial past while transforming it into a public space that accommodates the needs of modern day Parisians and tourists alike. The building’s interiors are surprisingly organic compared to its tech-heavy exterior. It boasts plenty of stunning wood details and wide open space, inspired by the fluidity of Japanese design. Seating capacity for the unamplified classical music auditorium is 1,150, the larger modular concert hall at a lower elevation on the island site is able to accommodate audiences of up to 6,000. Visitors will also find a rooftop garden that’s almost a hectare in size, recording studios, and a space for resident musicians, the Insula Orchestra.
From the rooftop, you will see the classically-French architecture of Meudon on one end and the Eiffel Tower, defining the skyline, on the other. Although La Seine Musicale is symbolic of the new Paris, the old Paris is never too far out of sight.