Ideal forms, circular ideas. La Bourse de Commerce

“Architecture as a hyphen between the past and the present, where heritage and contemporary creation converse”  (Tadao Ando).

Inserting itself in the series of concentric circles – built and modified over almost three centuries, thus giving shape and consistency to the Bourse de Commerce area – the present is set cemented and leaves its architectural imprint. In the endless cycle of searching for ideal forms, Tadao Ando throws his circular ideas into the Parisian ring.

In the fusion of periods and styles that permeated the Bourse de Commerce (originally Halle au Blé), the recourse to the circle was a recurrence, manifested on multiple levels: the one of the building, the one of the horizontal section of the dome that covers it,  the one of the promenade boulevard that comprises it, the one of the outer shell of the buildings that close the urban composition. The radical geometry first proposed by Le Camus de Mézières in 1763, breaking then the hall-nave traditional scheme with a rotunda, aligned with the emblematic ideas of the great 18th century utopians. Today, the utopia of the ideal form finds its place right inside the rotunda, amplifying and enriching with new connotations a well-contained space.

Domage, BDC


According to Tadao Ando, in the Japanese vision, the circle has oxymoronic meanings, it can represent ”Nothingness and at the same time, in an apparently contradictory way, the Whole”. Thus, the contemporary gesture of inserting a concrete cylinder – with a 29 m diameter and a 9m height-  in the core of the Bourse de Commerce building strongly shapes a new space and gives shape to a void. The central hole created by the cylinder mediates the dialogue between the historic Hall and the intervention of Tadao Ando, but also the interaction between light and shadow profiled on the concrete background, filtered through the glass dome. Like a solar clock, their constant movement gives life to the building as time passes and the day consumes its hours. A luminous bright vision fit for contemplation and introspection.


Of course that in order to implant a concrete cylinder right in the heart of a listed building, not only you need a perfect shape, but also a reversible one. Therefore, the big wall is empty in its centre, it consists of a metal frame into which the concrete walls have been poured in situ, so the overall composition can be dismantled. Tadao Ando confesses here that there is no magic concrete formula and that the reason behind the use of this leitmotif material is that it can be found all over the world and therefore can be built anywhere, in different shapes and compositions. The result at Bourse de Commerce is a large matte surface that, after the initial impact, inevitably strong, is intended to become only a neutral background for the art objects on display, all belonging to the Pinault collection. Radical and antithetical visions collide in this wall, bouncing off the historical casing of the building and creating a spatial tension that, although it completely changes the interior experience of the building, imposes a dynamic and thrilling rhythm.


Tétard, bâtiment (2)

„Opening on landings that reach—without touching—the old ring-shaped structure, they serve all the exhibition galleries. Rising up through the historical strata, their serpentine shape contributes to the Piranesian aesthetics of places that are dear to Tadao Ando. On the walkway that crowns the cylinder, as if in levitation, facing the facades and the decor of the Bourse de Commerce, the stuccoes masking the birth of the dome and the large painted panorama, the visitor has a new experience of the building along a hitherto unseen promenade under the Parisian sky. This plan makes it possible to obscure the visitor’s bearings in order to magnify an integrated, unified, abstract space, in the spirit of the perfect form, emblematic of the utopian eighteenth-century” (Lucie Niney and Thibault Marca, Architects, Project Managers). 

Leaving the circle of contemporary creation, we also take a look at the overall restored form of Bourse de Commerce building, which from its origins until today, has been the manifesto and manifestation of the innovation of Parisian architecture of the 16th, 18th, 19th and 21st centuries. From the circular utopia conceived by Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières named Halle au Blé, to the iron-cast dome added by Bélanger in 1811 (one of the greatest technical achievements of its century), to the transformation of the hall in the Bourse de Commerce under Blondel’s patronage and in the current state restored and redesigned, the building has been operated over time according to congruent principles and with ever innovative solutions.

PROJECT: La Bourse de Commerce. The new museum of the Pinault Collection; ADDRESS: 2 Rue de Viarmes, 75001 Paris, France; BUILT AREA: 10,500 mpARCHITECTURE: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, NeM—Lucie Niney Thibault Marca, Pierre-Antoine Gatier; FURNITURE DESIGN: Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec; ENGINEERING: SETEC Bâtiment; COMPLETION YEAR : 2021 

RO version

Article published in igloo #203 / august-septembrie 2021 / New Tech


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