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The Cité musicale de l’île Seguin or the City of Music on Seguin Island is a musical facility being developed by the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine. It is located on the tip of the Seguin Island in Boulogne-Billancourt, south-west of Paris, France.

Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and his French partner Jean de Gastines, the complex is being developed as part of Seguin Island’s renovation. It won the Best Futura Project at the MIPIM Awards 2015.

Construction of the leisure and cultural venue began in July 2014 and approximately 500 workers will be employed at the site during the peak period. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2016 and the first concert is expected to be hosted in October 2016.

The 36,500m² cultural complex will contain concert halls, recording studios, seminar centre, spaces for teaching music and training, restaurants and shops.

Development of the Seguin Island and Cité musicale

The Seguin Island, situated in the middle of the Seine River, is the former industrial site of Renault’s manufacturing plant, which was closed in 1992 and demolished ten years later. The Pinault Foundation Contemporary Art Museum designed by Tadao Ando was proposed to be built at the site in 2001 but was withdrawn later.

Architect Jean Nouvel was appointed as the project coordinator in 2009 to develop the island into an art and cultural destination. His proposed master plan was chosen by the people of Boulogne-Billancourt by a vote in 2012.

Shigeru Ban won the design competition for the music centre in July 2013. While the Jean Nouvel-designed R4 Art Hub will be situated at the upstream tip of the island, the music facility is being built on a 2.35ha site at its downstream tip.

The City of Boulogne sold the land to the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine for a symbolic price of €1. The complex is estimated to cost approximately €170m ($190.5m).

Design of the cultural facility

The waterfront building is designed in line with the curved shape of the island’s downstream tip. It will span 280m along the banks of the Seine, giving the impression of floating on the river.

The entrance of the complex will feature a large LED screen that will broadcast cultural information and live musical performances. A planted staircase next to the entrance will lead to the garden-like roof terrace.

The spine of the project will comprise the 1,000m² Grand Foyer, which will be a public reception area leading to the various functions within the building. It will include stores, cafes and restaurants, which will be organised around the Great Hall, the auditorium, the business spaces, as well as the rehearsal and recording studios.

The most distinctive feature of the building is the egg-shaped auditorium with a freestanding wooden facade resembling a nest of a woven lattice. A 50m-high silver sail with more than 1,000m² of photovoltaic solar panels will rotate around the auditorium, following the path of the sun. Apart from protecting the interior from direct sunlight, the solar veil will also generate renewable energy.

Facilities at the City of Music

The auditorium will be a ‘vineyard’-type concert hall with world-leading acoustic standards. It is designed to host symphonic orchestra and contemporary music performances. Multiple terraces around the stage will accommodate 1,100 people, shortening the distance between the musicians and the audience.

The Great Hall will be a multi-purpose concert hall dedicated to contemporary music. It will have a seating capacity of 4,000 and a standing room for 2,000 people. The flexible hall will have retractable bleachers towards the bottom and fully mobile and scalable performance space, allowing for a quick turnover of events. The Great Hall will be able to offer up to six shows in 48h.

The international music hub will also house 2,660m² of business and conferences areas, as well as space for seminars and exhibitions.

Contractors involved

The General Council of Hauts-de-Seine signed a public-private partnership agreement with the Tempo Ile Seguin consortium in July 2013 for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the building.

The consortium is headed by Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France and includes Sodexo, OFI Infravia and TF1. The 30-year contract includes three years of construction and 27 years of artistic and commercial operation, as well as maintenance.

Bouygues Construction subsidiary Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France is responsible for the design and construction of the complex while TF1 and Sodexo will manage and operate the facility.

Setec TPI provided structural engineering services while Artelia is responsible for fluid engineering services, including electricity, heating, air-conditioning and plumbing.

Bassinet Turquin Paysages is the landscape designer while Ducks Scéno designed the scenography. RFR consulted on the design of the facade and the photovoltaic sail while Transsolar served as the environmental consultant for the project.

Lamoureux Acoustics and Nagata Acoustics were responsible for the acoustics of the building. Mott MacDonald is serving as the lenders’ technical advisor and providing construction monitoring services on behalf of the consortium.