Tadao Ando’s transformation of the historic Bourse de Commerce interweaves past and present, introducing the minimalist aesthetic of a contemporary art venue within the prestigious heritage building whose history spans four decades. The defining architectural gesture in the building’s refurbishment is a circular concrete wall, a new space within the glass-domed rotunda of the former exchange building, which now displays the private collection of notable art collector François Pinault. Images by photographer Cyrille Weiner and photography atelier Think Utopia highlight Tadao Ando’s vision of “architecture within architecture”, showcasing an exemplary restoration accompanied by a highly contemporary yet timeless intervention.
Developed together with Paris-based practice NeM Architectes and architect Pierre-Antoine Gatier, the project initiates a conversation between art and architecture. The main feature of the refurbishment is the 9-metre tall cylindrical concrete wall, which creates a central gallery below the 19th-century glass dome while shaping a new internal circulation along the façade designed by Henri Blondel. Wrapping around this cylindrical concrete room are staircases leading to levels above and below. A circular walkway crowns the structure, allowing visitors to observe up close the murals and original details of the building. Below the exhibition space, the concrete wall extends into the basement, shaping a foyer for the 284-seat auditorium. The former exchange building was reorganized to contain galleries, reception and a restaurant.
The stark contrast between the classicist architecture of the building and Tadao Ando’s contemporary intervention engages the visitors into an interrogation over the relationship between past and present. The use of the primary shape is not solely dictated by the historic building’s architecture; it is a deliberate gesture linked to a notion of architectural honesty, which the architect previously tapped into with its Punta Della Dogana Museum in Venice.
The project of the Bourse de Commerce opened its doors to the public this May, after a three-year transformation project and subsequent delays caused by the pandemic. The work is the culmination of a long collaboration between architect Tadao Ando and art collector François Pinault. The latter has previously commissioned Ando for the remodelling of Palazzo Grassi in Venice.