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Credits: Manuelle Gautrand Architecture
Client: Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé
Surface: 5.000 m²
Photographer: Luc Boegly and Guillaume Guérin
In 2011, Gaumont-Pathé decided to rebuild the Alésia cinemas on Paris' Left Bank to create a new cultural destination. While at its opening in 1921 the building was considered architecturally audacious, with its 2800-place film theatre, it subsequently suffered numerous alterations, dividing the original volume into multiple screens and losing all coherence.
Around eight new, well-proportioned film theatres, conceived for optimum visual and acoustic quality, we have designed unusually generous reception spaces, where cinemas are accessed via a circulation that is almost theatrical. A large vertical foyer contains stairs, escalators and tiered seating, which together form a sort of sculptural composition hung on the inside of the glazed facade that gives onto the Place d'Alésia.
Inside the building it is the cinemas that are dramatised, by highlighting the steps made by the underside of the tiers of seating, whereas outside it is the films that are centre stage, screened on a huge facade brought to life by a curtain of pixelated LEDs that enable a variety of animation.
This facade is composed of a dozen vertical ribbons, folded to form a cascade of alternating facets. Towards the centre, these great folds are glazed and covered in bars of LEDs to form a huge curtain of pixels.
While the LEDs are densely grouped towards the centre, they become more dissipated toward the edges of the facade: the aim of this is to gradually pixelate the image as you move away from the centre, screening the images in a way that has a certain poetic, even artistic quality.
The facade for the project required a specific design, somewhere between a lighting installation and a digital skin. Screening is made possible by 230,000 luminous points spread over a height of 12m and a width of 19m, each independently controlled.
Day and night, this large animated envelope will play with a superimposition of images and content. The internal foyer spaces can be glimpsed through moving images that act like a luminous filter.
Across the lower section, the last segment of each ribbon folds up to form a canopy over the pavement, beneath which the public enters, as if stepping into the image to come into the building ...
The entrance brings you in to a large hall beneath the stepped ceilings formed by the film theatres above, which themselves are fitted together like pieces of a puzzle, in the most efficient and compact arrangement possible. Vertical circulation up to the cinemas is punctuated in several places by tiers of terraces forming little amphitheatres in front of the cinemas, comprising spots for alternative screenings where again cinema is given full rein of expression. It is as if the cinema stalls have stepped outside their theatres to continue welcoming the public in a space illuminated by film and projections...