After 14 years of work, discover the new clothes of the Maison de la Radio
This is what is called an epic project whose roots go back exactly 20 years. In fact, it was in March 2003 that the police headquarters demanded that the building be brought up to fire safety standards. radio house. But inevitably, when this type of request concerns a building from the 1960s with a very particular architecture spread over 110,000 m² and broadcasting its programs continuously, its implementation promises to be delicate. Especially since from the outset, it was decided that the site would be carried out without ceasing radio production within the Round House, as it is nicknamed.
Let’s add the fact that this building combines an IGH (high-rise building) part and a ERP (establishment open to the public), each subject to specific regulations. And, as often in Paris, many elements of the site are classified and protected: this achievement by the architect Henry Bernard inaugurated in 1963 is listed as a historic monument after being labeled “Heritage of the 20th century”. An inscription that protects many architectural elements as well as several works of art adorning the premises.
A construction site worth 242 million
In order to allow the continuation of the activity on the site, it was necessary to spread the construction site in five phases. A saga that resembles episodes of Star Wars: with a unit 0 launched in 2008 for the car park, followed by units 1 and 2 then 4.1 and 4.2 before ending with the 3 at the end of last year! Depending on the various difficulties, it was in fact necessary to invert phases 3 and 4 and split phase 4. One thing is certain: the result of this 242 million euro project won by the Architecturestudio agency in 2005 joined by the the SRA Architectes consortium and the engineering company Egis in 2013 (for the project management of phases 3 and 4 and the exterior fittings) goes well beyond bringing it up to standard and rehabilitating places.
Admittedly, the numerous foyers, these veritable windows opening the Maison de la radio onto its neighbourhood, all adorned with works of art, have been cleared of clutter and returned to their original splendor. But many other elements made it possible to add to the existing while respecting the architecture of the place. The most striking element is the creation of the Auditorium. This 1,461-seat room, which is one of the prides of the Maison de la radio, was not really planned in the initial project. “It was only a variant that Jean-Paul Cluzel, president of Radio France at the time, had proposed to include in the competition, remembers Gaspard Joly, associate architect of Architecturestudio. And given the importance of the overall project, this equipment only represented an additional cost of 32 million in 2014 on delivery, which worked in our favor because we had integrated this variant.
Born from the destruction of studios 102 and 103, which had become obsolete, the auditorium had to be set up in a restricted space, which notably led to this design placing music at the heart of the system with this large central stage that can accommodate 120 musicians. By using the height, this arrangement makes it possible to combine a large gauge and a great proximity between the public and the stage, the maximum distance being 17 meters. And to top it off, the three types of wood selected by the architects (beech, birch, cherry) structured in horizontal lines create a beautiful harmony where everything has been thought out in the ways of faceting the covering in order to optimize the acoustics.
Right next door, the mythical studio 104 has obviously been preserved and rehabilitated with a few improvements. Since the auditorium now has its own organ, the one that was on site has been replaced by a choir stand. This multi-purpose 840-seat concert hall has been given a new look, an enhancement of the original bas-reliefs by Louis Leygues and an improvement in its acoustics. As for the 50 recording studios strictly speaking that comprise this temple of radio, they have also been brought up to date, both in terms of technique and acoustics. And since the hour is with the diffusion video, including for the radiophonic programs, the filmed studios are adorned with mouse gray walls. What may seem a little dull or sad appears, after many trials, as the background that makes the people filmed the most beautiful on screen, whatever their complexion or the color of their clothes…
Of the 90,000 m² rehabilitated (out of the total 110,000 m²), more than a third (38,000 m²) are occupied by offices. The place has no less than 2,500 workstations, most of which were to operate in open space but many of which will ultimately be individual under pressure from employees. Note: the central tower which originally housed the radio archives has been converted into office space with a panoramic meeting room with a passageway balcony on the 22nd floor in place of the technical elements of the thermal power station (moved to the car park).
Geothermal power plant
And what really changes the life of this building where you could go around in circles like a fish in its bowl, is that the circulations have been redesigned. A real interior street now crosses the building, linking the center of the building to its periphery. Using a very classic architectural vocabulary, the Architecturestudio teams designed a nave lit by a glass roof leading to the central Agora, also topped by a glazed roof. This village square, à la Radio France, has become a common meeting space, taking care to avoid the place resonating, as the recording studios are never far away. A series of 4 new 32-meter glazed walkways completes the system to facilitate exchanges on the higher floors. And to prevent the place from turning into an ice cube or a furnace depending on the season, the floor of these walkways incorporates fan heaters.
As for the basements, they have not been forgotten either. This is where water, electricity, heating and ventilation are managed. From 1963, the building played the precursors by heating by geothermal energy thanks to a very deep drilling at 600 meters. The principle of geothermal energy was retained, but a very low energy option was preferred with a much shallower borehole at 45 meters. Finally, if the water from geothermal energy brings its benefits, the nearby Seine could cause havoc in the event of a major flood. This risk had been taken into account from the start of the building and the anti-flood barrier systems were reinforced. In such a building, the work never stops completely: there are currently 14 design studios under construction on the ground floor which must be delivered in two years…