Rediscovering the monument and its original spaces
One of the functional challenges of the projects consists of creating a common entrance for visitors to the Grand Palais and the Palais de la Découverte, and of reproducing the building’s historic circuits, from north to south (Champs-Elysées – Seine connection) and east to west (connection between the Nave of the Grand Palais and the Palais de la Découverte). The architectural project led by François Chatillon, Chief Architect for Historical Monuments in charge of the Grand Palais, aims to rediscover the building and once again make use of its initial spaces, which are generously proportioned and connected to one another.
A complete heritage restoration
Since late 2018, the façades and statues of the Grand Palais have deteriorated significantly due to climate change, causing stones to fall and therefore emergency measures to be implemented, with the netting of all decorative pieces, thus rendering this restoration essential. The project therefore includes the complete restoration of the façades and decorative pieces, as well as work to enhance the decorative elements created in 1900 inside the monument, such as the mosaics or glass ceilings.
A new ambition for the Nave
The Grand Palais’s emblematic space, the Nave, hosts events in all disciplines and formats. One of the project’s objectives involves increasing its capacity: the creation of new emergency exits will bring this to 9,000 people (compared to 5,600 currently). The 3,700 m2 of Nave balconies, currently closed off, will once again be made accessible to the public. They will be connected to the adjoining galleries via openings, making circulation between the Nave and galleries now possible. The dimensions of the Nave and its glass dome mean that it is subject to significant fluctuations in temperature. Thermal insulation slabs will be fitted to provide economical temperature regulation, which is essential if visitors are to be hosted all year round.
New visitor offerings
The Children’s Gallery, run jointly by the Grand Palais and the Palais de la Découverte, will offer themed exhibitions for younger visitors, augmented by the dual perspective of art and science. Two exhibition galleries will also be dedicated to digital exhibitions, adding to the two existing exhibition circuits and the future exhibition and cultural engagement spaces at the Palais de la Découverte. The new Grand Palais will therefore be able to offer four exhibitions at the same time.
Larger cultural engagement spaces and auditoriums
Two levels will be dedicated to cultural engagement, with direct access from the monument’s reception area. A large auditorium will be able to host 350 people in excellent conditions; on the upper level, a small auditorium with an original configuration and bathed in natural overhead light will enable pleasant and convivial engagement activities to be organised for around a hundred people. Finally, a third auditorium will be available, replacing the cinema in its current location.
A high-quality urban setting and landscaping
The restoration project also includes the modification of outside spaces in order to better integrate the Grand Palais into the urban fabric and landscaping of the Champs-Élysées gardens. Visitors and passers-by will be able to enjoy regenerated green spaces in the monument’s immediate surroundings. The Jardin de la Nouvelle France and the Cours-la-Reine will be renovated, providing a continuity in the landscaping and for pedestrians with the architectural ensemble. The listed wooded area and protected green space will therefore be preserved.
Reaffirming the environmental dimension
The spirit of the Grand Palais restoration project consists of drawing on the architectural history of the site and revealing its spaces and circuits. Excavation, destruction and construction will be kept to a minimum, thereby guaranteeing a very low environmental impact. When it reopens, operations and programming at the Grand Palais will meet sustainable development requirements as part of a “high environmental quality” approach.
Publication date : September 2020