R4 is a territory whose urban and river-port aspects have been marked by exchanges, artists and the public. Yet it is not characterised as having any particular identity, but rather as a melting pot and a territory which is singularised by its ever-changing content.
PhotographsCourtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel
The major challenge the creators of R4 set themselves was to ignore the traditional separation between form and content by exploiting every possible source of synergy and continuity between the architecture itself and its function.
The architectural plan for the upstream tip of Ile Seguin harks back to the industrial past of the site, an imaginative universe that has been retained precisely for its capacity to interact with art, its creation, its production, its presentation, and the enhancement of its value. Moreover, the quality of the areas open to the public and the architectural layout of the buildings are perfectly in keeping with the requirements of such a culturally influential project.
In parallel to this, R4’s innovative ambitions will be realised through the extreme versatility of the areas made available to its users. Designed to be both multi- purpose and functional, R4’s architectural structure makes it a living matrix, open to the hybrid use of the available space, and capable of ongoing adaptation to the changing needs of its partners and the specific expectations of the various actors in the world of art. These ways of using space break down the boundaries between “stage” and “backstage”.
Composed of two sets of buildings separated by a public area, R4 is one of the few developments to cross the whole island, offering prime views of the river banks at Boulogne-Billancourt and Meudon. Gardens will be laid out on the rooftop of R4, so that people can take “art strolls”, and that enable special exhibitions to be held there.
In keeping with this philosophy and with the intention to set a precedent in terms of environmental innovation, a bridge crane will enable works of art that arrive by river to be transported across the whole of R4 from one side to the other.
R4 is being developed on a site covering around 8,000 m2, with a total floor space of almost 30,000 m2, which is divided into 5 levels: 2 underground, 2 floors and a roof terrace.
R4 is planned to include various large complexes, as follows:
A multi-purpose, flexible exhibition hall
This will be R4’s showcase, and is intended to accommodate large-scale exhibi- tions, ensuring that the site becomes a key venue on the French and international cultural scene.
The hall covers a surface area of 1,200 m2, with a floor to ceiling height of 9 m, and provides flexibility of use thanks to a design that enables its volumes to be reconfigured.
This area encourages collaboration between all the actors on the site, whether they be artists, gallerists or collectors. The programme is thus intended to include events of longer duration (trade fairs, biennials, travelling exhibitions, festivals) as well as more short-lived events (happenings, performances and conferences).
A fully removable conference and press centre
This connecting area between the exhibition hall and the galleries is designed to accommodate autonomous events as well as those that are directly related to the programming, including art previews, performances, press conferences, screenings, shows, debates and auctions, but also seminars and corporate meetings.
Television and radio studios will be located in direct proximity to this area.
One of R4’s major assets is that it is designed to accommodate around 20 art galleries, thereby concentrating the offer in a single location and providing a dense network that is unavailable elsewhere in Paris. These galleries will also have office space combined with a presentation area integrated into an exhibition platform that they can rent according to their needs, the nature of their offer and the state of their market. These platforms are also suitable for collaboration between galleries when the focus is placed on a single exhibition or artist. They will also have storage opportunities accessible to clients as well as more private presen- tation rooms and a club where they can receive guests in a more exclusive setting.
A creative platform and artists’ studios
The creative platform is able to accommodate one or more artists invited by R4, by galleries or by patrons. The appropriate means of production will be placed at their disposal, but there will also be possibilities for interaction with collectors, gallerists, or other artists.
In return, these artists will undertake to welcome members of the public on an ad hoc basis and participate in events organised on site (conferences, master classes, etc.).
However, in order to ensure the artists’ autonomy and to provide them with the peace and quiet they need for their work, this space is separate from the areas that are open to the public. Like the rest of the site, these spaces are multi-purpose and allow for the creation of exceptionally large art works.
This creative platform is surrounded by studios equipped for a range of specific techniques, in which particular materials can be worked.
Convivial outdoor areas
Blurring the distinctions between interior and exterior optimises not only R4’s outstanding location but also its ability to transcend its vocation as a cultural venue and become a true living environment. A centrally located outdoor area will thus encourage convivial encounters. Gardens in which people will be able to take “art strolls” will be laid out on the rooftop of R4.
Storerooms, some of which will be open to the public
R4’s storerooms will be places for the storage, conservation, consultation and presentation of works of art. Some of them will be open to the public.
R4 aims to add to France’s stock of auction rooms, which is currently considered to be inadequate. Complementing the dense network of galleries, this sales activity will encourage an additional influx of professionals and art lovers, thereby increasing the attractiveness of the venue and helping it to achieve recognition as a centre of expertise and excellence.
These areas will comprise delivery bays, areas for storage and handling of works of art, merchandise and products. The most innovative element is the bridge crane, an emblematic object and an essential tool that will form the link between R4 and the river.