Architecture

Stunning auditorium crowns ship-shaped Paris music venue

La Seine Musicale was designed in collaboration with local architect Jean de Gastines
La Seine Musicale was designed in collaboration with local architect Jean de Gastines
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La Seine Musicale is located on an island in the center of Paris' Seine River
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La Seine Musicale is located on an island in the center of Paris' Seine River
La Seine Musicale's eye-catching auditorium is part-covered with a huge "solar sail"
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La Seine Musicale's eye-catching auditorium is part-covered with a huge "solar sail"
La Seine Musicale was designed in collaboration with local architect Jean de Gastines
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La Seine Musicale was designed in collaboration with local architect Jean de Gastines
La Seine Musicale was completed in December, 2016 and opened last month
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La Seine Musicale was completed in December, 2016 and opened last month
La Seine Musicale was designed in collaboration with local architect Jean de Gastines
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La Seine Musicale was designed in collaboration with local architect Jean de Gastines
Ignoring the auditorium, La Seine Musicale's shape resembles an ocean liner
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Ignoring the auditorium, La Seine Musicale's shape resembles an ocean liner
La Seine Musicale was designed from the ground-up to be accessible to the public
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La Seine Musicale was designed from the ground-up to be accessible to the public
La Seine Musicale is located on the Île Seguin, a small island in the middle of the Seine with an interesting history
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La Seine Musicale is located on the Île Seguin, a small island in the middle of the Seine with an interesting history
La Seine Musicale's foyer 
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La Seine Musicale's foyer 
La Seine Musicale's timber work is extraordinary 
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La Seine Musicale's timber work is extraordinary 
La Seine Musicale's timber work includes delicate woven timber patterns
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La Seine Musicale's timber work includes delicate woven timber patterns
La Seine Musicale's interior boasts intricate wood detailing
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La Seine Musicale's interior boasts intricate wood detailing
La Seine Musicale 
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La Seine Musicale 
La Seine Musicale's timber work includes 1000 wooden hexagons adorning the acoustic ceiling
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La Seine Musicale's timber work includes 1000 wooden hexagons adorning the acoustic ceiling
The glazed auditorium is supported by a shell of timber laminate made from woven spruce wood
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The glazed auditorium is supported by a shell of timber laminate made from woven spruce wood
The glazed auditorium is supported by a shell of timber laminate made from woven spruce wood
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The glazed auditorium is supported by a shell of timber laminate made from woven spruce wood
La Seine Musicale's foyer 
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La Seine Musicale's foyer 
La Seine Musicale's eye-catching auditorium is part-covered with a huge "solar sail"
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La Seine Musicale's eye-catching auditorium is part-covered with a huge "solar sail"
La Seine Musicale's solar sail is self-powered, and moves in gradual increments every 15 minutes
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La Seine Musicale's solar sail is self-powered, and moves in gradual increments every 15 minutes
Inside La Seine Musicale's auditorium
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Inside La Seine Musicale's auditorium
La Seine Musicale is located on the Île Seguin, a small island in the middle of the Seine with an interesting history
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La Seine Musicale is located on the Île Seguin, a small island in the middle of the Seine with an interesting history
The interior La Seine Musicale's auditorium is accessed through a large glass door weighing 5 metric tons (5.5 US tons)
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The interior La Seine Musicale's auditorium is accessed through a large glass door weighing 5 metric tons (5.5 US tons)
La Seine Musicale is located on an island in the center of Paris' Seine River
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La Seine Musicale is located on an island in the center of Paris' Seine River

Japan's Shigeru Ban is best known for using humble materials like cardboard and bamboo to build innovative refugee shelters, but when he turns his hand to large-scale projects the results are equally impressive. His recently-completed La Seine Musicale is a ship-shaped music venue that's crowned by an almost egg-like auditorium and adjacent track-mounted solar array.

Ban designed La Seine Musicale in collaboration with local architect Jean de Gastines. The project took three years to build and cost €170 m (roughly US$189 million). The venue was deliberately designed to resemble an ocean liner, which also enables it to fit well in the awkward plot.

A total floorspace of 36,500 sq m (392,882 sq ft) is spread over a large multipurpose concert hall, rehearsal and recording studios, and a second smaller music venue. There's also a covered street with retail and restaurant spaces running through it, and extensive rooftop gardens that visitors are welcome to explore. A large screen has even been installed outside so that passersby can watch shows for free.

The glazed auditorium comprises a spruce wood frame and is part-covered by a "solar sail" (named for its resemblance to a ship's sail, not the futuristic spacecraft propulsion method) that helps shade the interior from direct sunlight.

La Seine Musicale's eye-catching auditorium is part-covered with a huge "solar sail"
La Seine Musicale's eye-catching auditorium is part-covered with a huge "solar sail"

The solar sail looks like a pretty neat piece of kit, even if we don't have any figures on how much energy it produces. Clad in solar panels and mounted on rails, motors move it to track the course of the sun each day from east to west and catch the maximum possible rays, reducing the electricity required from the grid. The mechanism is self-powered, and moves in increments every 15 minutes. At night, it returns to the starting point.

The interior of the auditorium is accessed through a large glass door weighing 5 metric tons (5.5 US tons) that opens upwards. Inside, the floorplan is arranged into tiered balconies and terraces, plus a gallery boasting 360-degree views of the landscape.

Inside La Seine Musicale's auditorium
Inside La Seine Musicale's auditorium

The timber work is extraordinary and includes delicate woven wall patterns and a total of 1,000 wooden hexagons adorning the ceiling. The space is specially designed for non-amplified music, such as string quartets and choirs. There's a total capacity of 1,150 seats.

La Seine Musicale is part of a new arts hub under construction on the Île Seguin, an island in the middle of Paris' River Seine with an interesting history. Over the years, the island's owners have included Louis XV, a pioneering chemist, and an unfortunate banker guillotined during the French Revolution. The most recent occupant was carmaker Renault, which had a very large factory on the site for decades.

La Seine Musicale was completed in December, 2016 and officially opened last month.

Sources: La Seine Musicale, Shigeru Ban Architects

2 comments
JamesAberdeen
Not as hideous as a cruise ship but still quite unattractive especially for Paris.
GeneMoore
I want to hear the acoustics,,,a cross between Red Rocks and one of the old theaters,,,,,I bet it is something special.