The new philharmonic hall in Paris is located in the northeast of the city, in the 19th arrondissement directly on Boulevard Périphérique in the »Parc de la Villette.« In recent decades a cultural forum for the sciences and music has arisen here. The new philharmonic hall is not conceived as only a concert hall in the traditional sense, but as a space of aesthetic experience. The spatial concept is characterized by many terraces and glass foyers that open the space up to the outside world. The diversity and »fuzziness« of the structure’s shape is further enhanced by a façade shell reminiscent of the work of M.C. Escher, made up of 340,000 bird-shaped die-cast aluminum panels in four grey tones.
According to political visions, the east of Paris will soon no longer mark the urban fringe. Instead, it will lie at the heart of the new metropolitan region »Grand Paris.« This is currently being formed through the incorporation of the neighbouring départements and it will have over ten million inhabitants.
As part of this development, the pocket of land in the eastern part of the city, which used to house many abattoirs up until the 1970s, is being turned into a culture cluster. Bernard Tschumi provided the design to restructure the area and create what is now the Parc de la Villette in the 1980s. In 1995 Christian de Portzamparc expanded it by the Cité de la Musique, which comprises a medium-sized and a small concert hall, as well as an archive and a museum of instruments. What was still missing was a large hall for symphony concerts. The competition for this was held in 2007, and the building constructed according to plans by Jean Nouvel from 2011 through to 2014.
Together with the Cité de la Musique, the new building is now run under the umbrella brand »Philharmonie de Paris.« The declared goal of this brand is to foster cultural participation by young people in particular. The Philharmonie de Paris building directly embodies the desired accessibility through its roof terrace, which is open to the public and also boasts a space for temporary exhibitions, cafés and a panorama restaurant. Most notably there is also a section that houses the wide-ranging educational program on offer. The directors decided to also include Pop concerts in the schedule, which would usually fit the bill for the nearby Zenith concert hall.
By crossing genre boundaries and presenting performances that don’t appear to be compatible with an elitist understanding of music, the Philharmonie as a public space seeks to overcome the mental border drawn by the Boulevard Périphérique – the beltway – which hitherto separates Paris from the inhabitants of the suburbs.