2017 DELIVERY DATE
The EP7 digital open-air café
A multi-purpose venue for relaxation and festivities
In 2010, the City of Paris entrusted Point Éphémère – a company that designs artistic establishments and well-known venues for Parisian nightlife – with the task of culturally enlivening the new Bibliothèque Nationale de France district by operating a restaurant dedicated to music, right opposite the MK2 cinema. We were very sensitive to this desire to create a singular place, a «totemic building» capable of attracting all Parisians and ensuring a happy life after office hours. The programme called for an innovative project, attracting newcomers, respecting the latest technologies in sustainable development, and the building was meant as a medium for disseminating information. I won the competition in 2014.
The flip-flap of split/flap displays
It so happened that during my studies I had practised creating an artistic site in the Paris 13th arrondissement… For EP7, my first proposal consisted of a project that took into account the memory of the place, in particular its railway identity: the railway tracks used to run through here, allowing for travel and going to distant places… The Austerlitz station is nearby, and the future Masséna station is taking shape under the slab. The signage on all the façades that I was planning at the time referred to this imaginary world through the use of the boards that used to be displayed in the train stations, the split/flap displays announcing destinations, platforms and timetables. At some specific times, these displays would have been running for a minute or two seeking the attention of local residents. Info about the site’s activity (upcoming guest DJs or musicians festivities programme, etc) would have been displayed, as well as info about the event’s location and the time of day. Eventually though, we were confronted with the problem of the lack of information on the site, which was not always easy to understand. But in the end, we had to deal with many a constraint or impossibility: weight, budget, regulations, and most of all sheer unavailability (the famous displays were no longer available in sufficient quantities to cover about 450 sq. m).
«This digital façade is a space for artistic expression beyond the walls.»
Frédérique Taube, Point Ephémère company
We therefore opted for another kind of display by integrating screens equipped with the latest (and much less expensive) LED technology, and by limiting ourselves to the main façade on the Avenue de France in order to comply with the recommendations on visual pollution, which at the time were still poorly defined. This option gave us altogether another communication potential flexibility as the frames display offers the possibility of digital expressions and of artistic experimentation. The black volumes appear to pile up in a «constructivist» way on top of each other. On the main façade, they form a discontinuous surface of twelve screens, which can function either together or separately. This was also an opportunity, through this strong presence, to recreate a Parisian square inwardness, located partially above the railway tracks and flanked by two eightand ten-storey apartment buildings: today’s Place Jean-Michel Basquiat. On the other three sides of EP7, we extended the illusion with mesh panels to hide the technical elements (in particular all the ventilation devices on the roof which would have been detrimental to the surrounding flats’ view).
« The black volumes appear to pile up in a «constructivist» way on top of each other. »
A simple and flexible building on a human scale
For this spot to hit the ground running, we provided it with a real possibility of adaptation, of transformation and of evolution. To make the programme work with the imposed budget constraints we had to install light metallic structures. This type of construction allows great flexibility for the openings of the facades and for a significant mechanical performance. Which is required for the realization of a large space free of any load-bearing wall. Thus, we created three superimposed platforms of equivalent size (circa 80 sq. m), free of any obstacles, within the 12-metre height limit. In other words, a totally optimised surface area.
The economic operation of EP7 is based on its activities-generated income, but first and foremost on the private events hire of its spaces, e.g. co-ownership annual meetings, offices rental, sewing workshops, yoga classes and the like. Hence the need for a versatile and flexible architecture. Thanks to two stairwells located on either side of the building, the three levels function completely independently. These stairwells do also act as acoustic buffer spaces for neighbouring flats. In order to protect the neighbourhood from noise pollution, a terrace is accessible not on the top floor, but between the live entertainment bar on the ground floor and the panoramic restaurant on the second floor. It is, of course, open to the air, framed by the two service blocks positioned to the side. To reduce the noise emitted from this terrace, acoustic panels are positioned perpendicularly to the façade. Thus the general atmosphere remains subdued.
« The Austerlitz station is nearby, and the future Masséna station is taking shape under the slab. The signage on all the façades that I was planning at the time referred to this imaginary world through the use of the boards that used to be displayed in the train stations, the split/flap displays announcing destinations, platforms and timetables. »
Special care was taken with acoustics
The building is beyond reproach in terms of its sound insulation. It should be remembered that noise is the suffering most experienced by Parisians. Many night-life venues are the subjects of complaints and legal actions which tend to penalise the attractiveness of Paris. The acoustic issue was therefore of paramount importance in this project. The materials thus used include compressed wood fibre on a mineral wool mat, perforated wood and perforated sheet metal. Equipment noise such as ventilation is diminished. We have positioned the vertical corridors, airlocks, cloakroom, kitchen, offices and other ancillary spaces laterally so that they act as acoustic screens between public spaces and the future accommodations nearby. One enters and exits the place via four airlocks. The noise emissions remain contained inside. In the ground floor room where musical events are held, a system of mobile acoustic partitions allows the café to turn into a nightclub in the evening. The room has fixed glass walls, both doubled and solid, allowing for a continuity of sound insulation. The acoustic correction allows a muted atmosphere to be obtained, characterised by a low reverberation time. This is conducive to the reproduction of amplified music and limits the elevation of customers’ conversations (cocktail party effect). Thanks to this general limitation of the sound level, EP7 is well integrated into its environment.
With this digital open-air cafe project, we have truly created a «unique and creative place», a cultural totem in the heart of a neighbourhood in the making.
semapa-ville de paris
ville de paris, le point ephémère
assistant project manager
Acoustic & scenography
LED FACADE ENGINEERING