The historical site of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, rue de Richelieu*, has just reopened after ten years of complete renovation by the architects Bruno Gaudin and Virginie Brégal.
In the early 2000s, observing this aging edifice led to the inevitable conclusion the site had become obsolete. This included its technical and security installations, the conditions under which the public was received, as well as working conditions and conditions for conservation of the collections.
The building no longer fulfilled the role for which it had been designed. A major overhaul had become urgently necessary.
And this could no longer be carried out “bit by bit”, as had been done since the late 1950s – period during which Michel Roux-Spitz’s extensions were completed – but rather by means of a major campaign of works on the scale of the entire complex of buildings on the site.
The outcome of the negotiated deal included the general project management being entrusted to Bruno Gaudin’s architecture office.
The restoration of the Salle Labrouste, a structure listed in the ISMH (Inventaire Supplémentaire des Monuments Historiques), was entrusted to Jean François Lagneau ACMH (architect in chief of Monuments Historiques).
Although the site’s visibly distinct geometric forms are divided into ordered units (immense reading rooms, courtyards, garden, etc.) the gradual expansion of the complex since the 17th century was carried out through endless transformations, enlargements, demolitions, and densifications.
Behind the unified and ordered envelope of the stone façades are hidden buildings that have been refurbished and reorganized – and sometimes even rebuilt − many times over, some of which house up to 14 levels.
This long history of the construction of the library, often conducted by the major architects of each period, has left us with a heritage of extreme complexity commensurate with the richness of the heritage of the spaces that characterize it.
By hewing as closely as possible to the reality of the existing ensemble, the challenge of this project consisted of seeking the right balance between a building and a program. Source by Atelier Bruno Gaudin & Virginie Bréga.
- Location: 58 rue de Richelieu – Paris 75001, France
- Architects: Atelier Bruno Gaudin & Virginie Bréga
- Surface Phase 1 and Phase 2: 68,000 m² SHON (Net Internal Area)
- Cost: €70.8m excluding VAT
- Phase 1 construction: June 2011- May 2016
- Phase 2 construction: scheduled for 2017-2020
- Photographs: Takuji Shimmura, Marchand Meffre, Courtesy of Metropolis Communication
Article by Marco Rinaldi