The art of inserting a building into an historical city block means engaging in an open, physical dialogue with those already there. Building onto an extant structure also presents an opportunity for a more widespread renovation project, a reclaiming of space. The new headquarters of the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé is an unexpected presence, a curved volume one glimpses floating in the middle of the courtyard in which it sits, anchored on just a few supports. On the ground, there is a stand of birch trees, a floral island set in the dense mineral context of the city.
The Fondation Jerôme Seydoux-Pathé is an organization dedicated to the preservation of Pathé’s heritage, and to the promotion of the cinematographic art. Its new headquarters [sits at the centre of a block in the XIII arrondissement, where an old mid-19th century theatre - transformed into a cinema (one of the first ones in Paris) in the mid-1900s and then radically transformed again in the 1960s - once stood].
The new building will house Pathé’s archives, some (spaces for temporary exhibitions as well as for the permanent collection) (including a 70-seat screening room), and the offices of the Foundation.
The project called for the demolition of the two existing buildings to create an organic “creature” that better responds to the restrictions of the site. [The idea was to respond to the functional and representative programme requested by the Fondation, while at the same time increasing the quality of the space surrounding the new building] The façade on the avenue des Gobelins has been restored and preserved, due to its historical and artistic value. Decorated with sculptures by [a young] Auguste Rodin, it is not only a historical landmark, but also an iconic building for the Gobelins area.
A new transparent building just behind the façade functions as the foundation’s public access. Looking like a greenhouse, it offers a view on the interior garden through the transparent ground floor of a second building in the central court that houses the project’s main functions.
The peculiar design of this building is determined by the site’s major limits and requirements. While respecting the distances with the surrounding buildings, the building improves the neighbour’s access to natural light and air. By reducing the footprint, the project creates space for a garden in the back of the site.
The upper part of the building is made of glass, providing natural light for the office spaces of the Foundation. From the street the building is only perceived through the and over the restored façade like a discreet presence during the daytime, while it will be softly glowing at night.
The Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé’s new headquarters opens its doors in Paris on September 10th 2014. Located at 73 avenue des Gobelins, on the site of the former Théâtre des Gobelins, the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé has preserved the building’s magnificent façade sculpted by Auguste Rodin. Designed by Renzo Piano, the building will welcome those who are passionate about our cinematographic heritage.
A unique venue housing a unique collection
Since 2006, the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé has strived to preserve and promote Pathé’s film heritage. The Pathé company, which was founded just a few months after cinema was invented, has been producing, distributing and screening movies for 120 years, and its archives provide the rich source for the Fondation’s work.
A multi-disciplinary space dedicated to cinema
The Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé’s new premises are designed to be a multi-disciplinary space dedicated to cinema that is open to all. A screening room specially for silent film, exhibition spaces showcasing a rich heritage, a center for research and documentation, and an area set aside for educational workshops all serve to make this a unique establishment.
Faced with the mammoth task of preserving the capital of a company created in 1896, Pathé’s President Jérôme Seydoux and Sophie Seydoux, President of the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, wanted to create a new space for this exceptional legacy that would be open to the public. With this outstanding venue, the Fondation is paying tribute to the evolution of the cinema industry through the history of one of its leading companies.
A new home designed by Renzo Piano
The Fondation’s new 2,200m2 premises are located on the site of a former theater on the Avenue des Gobelins. The Théâtre des Gobelins was built in 1869 by the architect Alphonse Cusin, and was a cultural center for the 13th arrondissement. Its façade, by Auguste Rodin, is classified as an historical monument. It has two sculpted figures on it; a man to represent Drama and a woman to represent Comedy. The theater was later turned into the Gaumont Gobelins-Rodin cinema, but this closed its doors in 2003. They have now reopened to reveal a space dedicated to the history of cinema.
Renzo Piano is the architect behind the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé’s new home. Behind Auguste Rodin’s façade, Piano has erected a five-floor shell-like structure, covered by 7,000 protective shutters. Standing in the middle of a garden, this contemporary building is a virtuoso display of the use of materials. In addition to the glass work on the two upper floors, the interior offers a subtle combination of wood and steel, making this a unique construction.
A screening room to breathe new life into the masterpieces of silent cinema
On September 10th, the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé will inaugurate the 70-seat Charles Pathé screening room. The theater is dedicated to silent movies, and will offer audiences the chance to watch films that are often overlooked. Each screening will be accompanied by a pianist, making this theater a unique venue capable of recreating the magic of the bygone days of cinema, but with all modern comforts.
The Fondation’s projection room is equipped with state-of-the-art technology:
- Two KINOTON 35mm projectors, the FP30 E and the FP38 E (16/35) with variable speeds, and using 1,000W xenon lamps
- One Sony 4K SRX R320 projector
- One Dolby CP 650 processor for 35mm
- One DATA SAT AP20 sound processor for handling all other sources
The B chain uses active bi-amplification and DK audio speakers.
The screening schedule will be centered on Pathé films, but also open to other catalogs. Through cinematographic cycles, retrospectives and invitations to cinema personalities and film libraries, audiences will be able to watch both acknowledged masterpieces and forgotten treasures.
A permanent exhibition space in homage to cinema
Exceptional cinematographic equipment on show year-round
The second floor of the Fondation is dedicated to early cameras and projectors. The 200 pieces of cinematographic equipment on show offer a complete panorama that retraces the evolution of the apparatus sold by Pathé since 1897 through to the 1980s.
Whether destined for professional users, amateurs or small-time operators, these machines reflect the diversity of movie-making. Standard 35mm, 16mm and 8mm formats sit alongside the formats invented by Pathé, including 28mm, 9.5mm, 17.5mm, 4.75mm and DS8. In order to better understand how the cameras and projectors were used, digital tablets are available to visitors to explain the mechanisms employed.
A rich collection that is continually renewed
The Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé collection constitutes an exceptional heritage going back to 1896, when Emile and Charles Pathé created the Pathé Frères company. This legacy offers an insight into the industrialization of the phonograph and cinematograph, and bears witness to the company’s key role in the movie business for over a century.
Today, the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé brings together:
- 120 m3 of archives
- 4,500 posters, signs, mock-ups and drawings
- 500,000 photographs of screenings, sets and shoots
- More than 400 pieces of equipment and accessories
- 30,000 printed documents, including programs, film and equipment catalogs, movie scripts, press kits and reviews, instruction manuals, synopses and shooting scripts
- More than 4,500 books
- 110 magazines
- 350 movie objects and costumes
- A range of multimedia documents
The Fondation owns the archives of the Pathé company and those of more than 80 other companies affiliated with the group. These include administrative documents, such as notes from board meetings and statutes, as well as correspondence, patents and other accounting and legal documents.
The oldest posters in the collection date back to 1902 with the first creations by Candido de Faria. They were created by artists such as Misti, Adrien Barrère, Bernard Lancy, René Péron, Ceccetto, Jean-Adrien Mercier, Paul Colin, Hélène Le Breton, Tardi, René Ferracci and Moebius, and were very influential on the fashions of the day.
The Fondation’s collection also includes photographs from sets and shoots for Pathé films dating back to 1897. These images were shot over the course of a century by photographers such as Roger Corbeau, Raymond Voinquel, Benoît Barbier, Etienne Georges and Bernard Prim. The collection also contains pictures of theaters and studios, and some portraits.
The Pathé marketing collection comprises printed archives, including press kits and reviews, film scripts, theater programs and musical scores.
The collection also brings together various promotional and commemorative pieces produced by Pathé.
Exhibitions to complement films currently screening
The center’s screening cycles will be complemented by presentations of archive documents such as posters, set photography, letters, programs and other hitherto-unseen documents drawn from the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé’s rich collection.
Displayed on two floors, these temporary exhibitions will serve to illustrate the various film cycles and allow visitors to discover a particular era, theme or director.
An outstanding center for research and documentation
The Fondation’s research and documentation center offers researchers, students and members of the public the opportunity to consult Pathé’s complete archives by appointment.
Located on the top floor of the Fondation’s premises under the glass roof, the research center is dedicated to the history of cinema and also offers screening booths.
The website of the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé at www.fondation-jeromeseydoux-pathe.com contains a large part of the collection and provides a glimpse of the wealth of resources contained in the archive.
Educational cinema-related activities
The Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé has established an educational program for kindergartens and primary schools in Paris.
A range of workshops will allow children to understand how cameras and projectors work, and to discover the secrets of film and the first color movies.
A former theater then cinema, The Rodin sees its site protected by its reconversion to a place dedicated to the history of the cinema. Behind the facade sculptured by Auguste Rodin, a building encloses on seven levels the offices of the Foundation, the archives, a center of documentation and research, a space dedicated to exhibitions and the Charles Pathé projection room, with a capacity of 68 places, dedicated to silent movies.
This 2200 square meter all curvy building is integrated into an inner courtyard surrounded by several Parisian buildings of the district of the Gobelins. The first level houses the permanent exhibition which includes 200 of the 400 filming devices and projectors collected around the history of Pathé, the collection ranges from phonographs to amateur devices of the 1970s; Both floors above are dedicated to the very numerous archives of Pathé which produced since its creation in 1896 more than 10 000 movies, among them 9 000 were silent , printed documents, devices and film accessories, objects, a library of works and periodicals, as well as the administrative and legal archives of Pathé from its creation. A consultation and documentation area is accessible by appointment only, to researchers as well as the public interested in the history of the cinema. Educational workshops are organized in association with schools.
In the evening, from the entrance, the sight crosses through the room on the ground floor, and goes to the garden located behind the building; birches get virtually closer. To enable this principle, the background is licked with linear projectors and trees are showered with light using the «moonlighting " principle. Lighting where it is necessary, translates the principles used to illuminate the rooms of this building. Downlight, wallwasher, visual comfort, neutral color temperatures are the tools we favored for this illumination. Wall lamps and suspensions drawn by the studio RPBW are the only lighting fixtures that complete the architectural project. The multi-purpose theatre is equipped with lighting fixtures hidden in the plenum while projectors beams accompany the spectators up to the stage..