The Opera Garnier Restaurant Like a « phantom », silent and insidious, the soft protean curves of the mezzaninelevel float above the dinner guests, covering the space with a surface that bends andundulates.
Behind the columns of the east facade of the Opera Garnier, the restaurant is located in aplace where, when the building first opened, horse-drawn carriages would drop off ticketholders, arriving for a performance.
Creating a new space in the Opera Garnier meant following strict guidelines concerning thehistorical character of the monument: in order to ensure the possibility of completelyremoving the project without damage to the existing structure, we were not allowedto touch any of the walls, the pillars, or the ceiling.
The facade of the restaurant is a veil of undulating glass, sliding between each pillar. Withno visible structure, the glass is held in place by a single strip of bent steel runningalong the arched curve of the ceiling. This steel strip is fixed to the upper cornices ofthe columns 6 meters above the ground with stainless steel connecting rods. Theglass is therefore held in place as if « by magic ».The façade therefore allows for clear views and a minimum impact.
Providing enough floor space to seat 90 people was another requirement for this limitedspace. The mezzanine was therefore created as a continuous surface. Narrow columnsextend upwards towards the molded plaster hull, which curves to form the edges of thehandrail. This vessel, which has been slipped under the cupola, is a cloud formation floatingbetween the existing elements of the room without touching them. It’s an allusion to thechanging form of the phantom, whose white veil glides surreptitiously in space.
Quietly, almost insidiously, the soft protean curves of the mezzanine cover the space with avolume that arches, undulates, and floats above the guests. The space is open and turnedoutward.The keystone of the existing dome remains visible from the ground floor, while suddenlybecoming very close to the diners on the upper level. Sitting close to the stone arches of theceiling, the symmetry of the cupola is no longer apparent, the reference points change, andsense perception of the space is altered. In the curve of the hull above, immersed in warmred tones, the upper level becomes an intimate and private space.
The red carpeting flows down the steps of the main staircase dramatically, spreading outinto the center of the black floor below, and running under the tables until it arrives at theedge of the facade.
At the back of the room, in the area closest to the entrance to the Opera, the spacebecomes more protected and private, contrasting with the whiteness of the rest of the room.Long red booths line this space, creating the « lounge » area for the restaurant. At theoutside edge of the lounge, a long black bar snakes around a nearby column.
The design for this project is based around creating a space that will highlight the restaurantinside the Opera Garnier, without mimicking the existing monument, but respecting it whileaffirming its truly contemporary character.