In the summer of 2009, Jean Nouvel was chosen as the lead urban architect for a 300,000 square meter project in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. Nouvel recently unveiled the master plan for the incredible mixed-use project named the Seguin Island, which includes a cultural center, social facilites, extensive parks, gardens, shops, and terraces that serve as a destination for both residents and tourists. The new project will not only introduce additional public green space to the area, but the Seguin is anticipated to become a major destination for the city of Paris. Construction is scheduled to begin next year, and the new cultural pole is expected to open by the end of 2023.
The island was abandoned by carmaker Renault almost 20 years ago, and with Nouvel’s design there is hope that Paris could have a new landmark on its hands. A mix of culture, commerce, urban parks and gardens, the city is hoping to create an attractive destination for both Parisians and tourists to enjoy both day and night. The Seguin will establish a large complex of two music halls (one seating 3,000 to 5,000, the second seating 800); a cultural hub of fine art and digital composed across a contemporary art foundation, an arts portal, galleries, and artist studios; a history museum focused on French collections; a vibrant commercial structure along a main street of 400 meters, with passages linking to the banks of the Seine and large squares gardens; and finally more basic leisure and entertainment destinations complemented by hotels, restaurants and a cinema complex.
Most notably, the green spaces will cover an area of 7 hectares, and set the path towards an eco-friendly neighborhood – especially key as additional developments are anticipated to follow to project at hand. A 450 meter long glass covered garden in the center will house plants unknown to the Ile-de-France region, and when the weather permits, the roof will be left open to infuse the space fresh air. The banks of the Seine around Seguin Island will be a public waterfront promenade, and additional trees will be planted in this area.
Overseeing the revitalization, Nouvel has been conscious of creating a seamless development that doesn’t parcel off the land to the developers and architects involved. Rather, Nouvel sees the Seguin as a chance to make up for what was lost during the years of desolation, and to instead create an urban pole with the power to transform the community. As he contends, “If we do not define the urban agenda at this stage we will have a place without soul or roots, without synergy or complexity….a place without mystery. The depth of the project is a dimension that can be premeditated. My role here is to create a harmony, an urban continuity like that which existed before with the industrial space.”
The Seguin Island project demonstrates a new way of thinking about architecture within a city that is both modern and historic, yet not confined by neither notion. Nouvel’s plan is “based on principles of body types, shapes and sequences of spaces and using different types of buildings.”
Via Arch Daily