Jakob + MacFarlane

Docks en Seine, Paris, 2005

Docks en Seine, the conversion of the warehouses, formerly known as the Magasins Généraux d’Austerlitz, into the Cité de la Mode et du Design (City of Fashion and Design), is a redevelopment project sponsored by the city of Paris. The transformation work was carried out in 2010 and the complex now houses the Institut Français de la Mode (French Fashion Institute), promenades as well as a space for events and exhibitions, cafés, restaurants and shops. Jakob+MacFarlane drew inspiration for their project from the adjacent flow of the Seine and from the promenades along the river’s embankments. The concrete framework was only thing they kept from the long merchandise warehouse, built in 1907 which was one of the earliest Parisian buildings in reinforced concrete. A new skin combining a light structure and glass, called the “plug-over,” has been grafted onto the existing structure. This plug-over, which appears like a veritable “growth” coming out of the building, in fact results from a distortion of the pre-existing framework of the former Magasins Généraux, achieved by implementing a process Jakob+MacFarlane developed earlier for the Georges Restaurant (Centre Pompidou, Paris) and utilized again when designing Turbulences for the FRAC Centre (Orleans). Thus, these three projects taken together form a sort of conceptual family. Following the main lines of the building’s longitudinal geometry, the plug-over grows out of the existing building like the branches of a tree in a volumetric expansion created through digital deformations of the building’s original framework. An active system, developed using non-standard digital production techniques, Docks en Seine is first and foremost a connective platform ensuring the continuity of this urban intervention between the Seine and the city.

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