All The Seine Is A Stage…

38549920414_d5e0735285_kA few years ago, there used to be a Renault factory on that Island, as famous for its strikes as it was for the vehicles it produced. All was shut down 25 years ago. Now, part of it is home to a new landmark by architects Shigoru Ban (JPN) and Jean de Gastines (Fr). All supervised by Jean Nouvel (Fr). Located right on the Seine of course. It took them a quarter of a Century! In 1906, it took Fulgence Bienvenüe a little more than one year to create the first metro line (still, may I point out that this was done 45 years after the London Tube was created, and after Budapest launched its fully electric underground train system).


The technical prowess of the building is the revolving round-shaped concert hall designed by Shigoru Ban. It’s adorned with solar panels covering up to 25% of the building’s requirements in electricity.


The building’s solar panels.

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Before we were able to have this view we had to climb a ridiculously steep staircase. It’s probably flat Thai-Noodle style (re. explanations below).

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Mirrors are everywhere, and make for interesting photography.

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Definitely very very steep. I don’t know about you, but I feel that our view of innovation is somewhat overrated. Besides, in those days (1900s), industrial buildings were beautiful (so called “noodle-style” Art Nouveau stations by Guimard — People hated them then but we love them now). The new building was baptised “La Seine Musicale”, a pun on the word “Seine” (“Scène” meaning “Stage” with the same pronunciation). We’ll come back later for the rest of the island to be populated. I only hope that it won’t take a quarter of a Century for these people to get their act together.

Yann Gourvennec
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  1. Thank you once again for showing me a new and unexpected facet of Paris, Yann. Those stairs look dangerously steep — just as the mirrors look like they’d cause a nightmare of glare and heat in the summer. But perhaps one day this type of architecture will be revered for its daring and innovation. All we have to do is wait and see. Bonne année !

    • Indeed Heide, a commentator pointed out that this kind of architecture would be the one we would regret in 40 years’ time just as we are now regretting that of the 1970s. I won’t be there by then but I think he may well have a point. Happy New Year to you too!

      • I agree wholeheartedly with the commentator — which is why I’ve written several letters to Mayor Anne Hidalgo begging her not to deface the city with giant glass pyramids and such. Alas, one person’s eyesore is another’s “progress.” Might as well follow your example and make the best of it by taking beautiful photos.

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