New Plan for Parisian Art Island Replaces Nixed Jean Nouvel Project

The current owners bought out Yves Bouvier last autumn.

S17 and S18 are due to be completed in 2021. Courtesy RCR Architects.

A new multifaceted project has been announced for L’Île Seguin including an exhibition space, cinema, and hotel, under the names S17 and S18. The project is an update from the previous Jean Nouvel-designed project R4, initiated by Yves Bouvier, which was halted after Bouvier became implicated in a series of revelations surrounding the Geneva freeports, an ongoing scandal which has been nicknamed The Bouvier Affair.

Earlier this week Pierre-Christophe Baguet, Mayor of the Boulogne-Billancourt commune of Paris where the island is situated, and Laurent Dumas, chairman of property development company Emerige Group, which is responsible for redesigning the project, announced their new plans for the island.

“This territory is therefore a symbol. That of a mutation, of a passage between the past and the future,” Baguet, said in a statement released by Emerige. “We are building, step by step, stone by stone, the foundations of one of the largest cultural hubs in Europe. It is a response to the evils that are overwhelming our time. Culture is indeed the yeast that grows men.”

The project is divided into two parts, S17 and S18, with differing visual identities. S17 is a cultural venture which will house the contemporary art collection of Emerige founder Dumas. The center, which includes eight rooms including an exhibition overlooking the Seine, will be programmed by ex-Palais de Tokyo director Jérôme Sans. Dumas’s extensive collection of around 1,300 works includes artists such as Elmgreen & Dragset, Daniel Buren, Shilpa Gupta, Loris Gréaud, Jim Shaw, Pierre Soulages, and Bill Viola.

The new design for the art center replacing the previous one by Jean Nouvel will be by Catalan Architects RCR. The space will also be run with close partnerships with the Giacometti Foundation and the Swiss Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, according to the statement from Emerige.

S18 will be a large hotel, designed by the architects Baumschlager Eberle with a concept of “one room, one work” meaning each of the 220 rooms in the hotel will contain a work by a contemporary artist in an effort to support emerging French artists.

Dumas stepped in and bought out Bouvier in September last year with a view to saving the project which, when realized, will be a central point in the Parisian art landscape, in close proximity to the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and adding to the swathe of new contemporary art institutions soon to be arriving in the French capital. From Francois Arnault’s forthcoming museum, slated to open in 2018 to the hotly anticipated Lafayette Foundation which opens later this year, the city’s art scene is rapidly growing. S17 and S18 are due for completion in 2021.

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