In response to a public debate about rebuilding the historic wing of the Louvre in Paris, Carl Fredrik Svenstedt Architecte shared with us their initiative to extend the Louvre. Destroyed by the French Republic at the end of the 19th century as a symbol of royal and imperial power, this proposal aims to build a more democratic building better suited to the site and our times. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The recent French debate surrounding the potential reconstruction of the Tuileries Palace demonstrates that the Louvre is still a major symbolic and political issue. The historical Tuileries were burned down by the Commune in 1871 and dismantled by the Republic many years later as the symbol of monarchical and imperial power. The project for the extension of the Louvre positions itself in a historical continuum, with a firm conviction that it should mark the aspirations of our time. The spatial representation of democracy is renewed with each inflexion of history.
The proposal takes the form of a project in two phases:
- An initial accessible, ephemeral installation, questioning the representation of society through a didactic act, whose potentially spectacular dimension engages public debate.
- The construction of a new, permanent pavilion for the Louvre Museum, demonstrating that the long historical line of French architectural innovation can still rival the most ambitious contemporary undertakings worldwide.
The new wing extends the Tuileries gardens vertically, through several viewing areas, and adds designated galleries for temporary exhibitions and contemporary art.
A Louvre of its Time
The Louvre’s architectural history is marked by a tradition of innovation, today manifest in the Museum’s ambitious renewal in France and internationally. The proposal for a new extension at the Tuileries embodies the aspirations of a cultural institution with a clear vision of its place in the future.
A Vertical Garden
The new wing extends the Tuileries gardens vertically, blending palace and park. The existing axial promenade is thus wound along a spiralling path through the new pavilion. Open to the public, this path remains accessible even when the galleries are closed. The pavilion provides added spaces for classical collections and contemporary art, expanding the museum’s exhibition possibilities. The galleries are arranged along a rising path mirroring the external vertical garden and its belvederes. Visitors circle each other as they rise, meeting on the roof, with its stunning views of Paris.
The extension is conceived in three phases, a pedagogic process designed to inform and accompany the public through the process of building on such a sensitive site. A first, temporary structure of scaffolding traces the future shape of the pavilion, defining solid and open spaces. The variable density of the scaffolding makes it shift and vibrate as one walks around and up into it. The structure will be spectacular, but accessible and inviting. At night, the illuminated scaffolding hovers like an electrical mist.
In the second phase, stretched canvas volumes outline the serpentine path through the future pavilion. By solidifying what has been a temporary installation, the vertical public spaces are given sculptural, negative form.
The third and final phase is the pavilion itself, permanent but still permeable. The semi-transparent structure screens against harsh sunlight and frames the vertical gardens.