The new Pathé Foundation building squeezes into an historic block in Paris with its “creature”-like design.
Like many historical cities, the old and the new often sit alongside each other in Paris. There are some triumphs like I.M. Pei’s installation outside the Louvre, the one-time controversial design that is now a landmark in itself. A new building by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the firm founded by globally renowned architect Renzo Piano, hopes to strike a similarly triumphant chord with the Pathé Foundation building in the 13th arrondissement.
The Pathé building simultaneously blends in with the surrounding historical façade, whilst also signaling its modernity with the interior structure and shape. The building is shaped like a giant armadillo nestled between other more traditional properties in a typical Parisian block.
From the street, it is hardly noticeable – the original building’s façade has been restored, featuring original Rodin goblins and classic French architectural detail. But behind the restored front and masked by surrounding buildings, is the rising curve of the glass structure. The architects envisaged it as a creature, filling in the awkward space in an otherwise clustered neighborhood. Explains RPBW:
The peculiar design of this building is determined by the limits and requirements of the site. While keeping its distance from the surrounding buildings, the new building actually improves its neighbours’ access to daylight and air and by reducing the building’s footprint, the project creates space for a garden at the back of the site.
The building will house the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, the organization that supports the preservation of the heritage of Pathé, one of France’s most prominent film production companies. As such, it includes exhibition spaces, a 70-person screening room and storage facilities for the company’s archives. The foundation’s offices sit on the top floor, benefiting from sunlight that comes through the glass roof.
The site, which has been under construction since 2006, is only a few months from completion. When it is complete it will be ‘a discreet presence during the daytime, it will softly glow at night.’