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The ephemeral Grand Palais is revealed



The Paris Opera, the Center Pompidou, the Louvre: everyone is interested in the ephemeral Grand Palais! Exclaims Chris Dercon. Construction helmet on his head, the president of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux is thrilled by his new reception area, erected in the prestigious setting of the Champ-de-Mars, in Paris. During the period of the pharaonic works undertaken until 2025 at the Grand Palais, the 10,000 m removable structure2 must host exhibitions, shows and other events traditionally held within the parent company. The space, flexible at will, therefore seems to pique the curiosity of other major Parisian cultural institutions.

From a distance, this cross-shaped building, 145 meters long and 130 wide, looks like an air terminal at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. But, approaching, the ephemeral Grand Palais is more aerial than it appears. Culminating at 20 meters in height, 16 less than the dome of the Military School facing it, the building plays with the solemnity of its neighbor. The neoclassical pediment of Ange-Jacques Gabriel is reflected in the glass facade of Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the outline of which draws a basket-handle arch, haloed by a wooden crown.

The materials play a lot in this double impression of lightness and solidity: ribbed concrete walls, curved frame in glued-laminated spruce, translucent woven PVC tarpaulin. The double skin formed by these last two elements is both beautiful and functional, insulating both heat and sound.

Noise is the obsession of Chris Dercon and Olivier Ginon, CEO of GL Events, prime contractor and concessionaire of the ephemeral Grand Palais. It must be said that some residents of the very posh 7e arrondissement were outraged by the installation of this temporary structure, which they feared in particular noise pollution. But not only.

Bernard Seydoux, president of the Friends and users of Champ-de-Mars, criticizes the privatization of part of a public garden in a city which is sorely lacking in green spaces, an occupation which is in addition to that which the site, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, endures too frequently, with , for example, the Paris Eiffel Jumping, at the end of June “. Unsuccessful of a first administrative appeal, the association awaits the outcome of a second brought before the Council of State.

During this time, the work has continued, taking care not to disturb the neighborhood too much and tests are underway to ensure the best possible sound insulation. Anyway, we have no plans to organize hard rock concerts ”, smiles Chris Dercon who lifts a corner of the veil on the cultural program to come: the second part of Round, dance performance by Boris Charmatz, as well as a play by Stefan Kaegi, Company under construction, created in Clermont-Ferrand.

The site, which should be completed at the end of April, was three months late, due to the health crisis and “Complex administrative procedures”, according to Olivier Ginon who does not wish to give details on the additional costs caused by these additional delays.

The budget of 40 million euros includes the construction, technical operation and maintenance of the building, as well as its dismantling. Everything will be financed by rental income received by the public establishment as well as by the Organizing Committee for the 2024 Olympic Games, the judo and wrestling events to be held there.

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