‘Architecture is the science of subtle correspondences.’- Inherited from the Hindu tradition, this definition could serve as a guiding principle to grasp the exceptional quality of the Palais of the Institut de France and guide its evolution. The very great skill of the plan that dislocates itself to open the building up symmetrically to the Seine, the precision of the harmonic lines, the beauty of the materials, the treatment of the façades, which vary from grandeur to rigor at the bottom of the plot, resonate with the activities of the academicians in order to seal a living agreement between the Institut de France, the Palais and its place in the city. The historical depth of the site provides a second means by which to understand the project: seeing the site as a palimpsest. The successive series of destructions/constructions have imprinted on the site lines of force that retain traces of each intervention. This is particularly the case for the An IV plot, where such structuring elements survive as the layout of the wall of Philippe Auguste, the ‘director’s garden’, and the ‘new workshops’.
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