The Palais du Trocadéro was designed by Gabriel Davioud for the Universal Exhibition of 1878 and built on the former gypsum quarries of the Hill of Chaillot. It was soon criticized for its outdated Moorish-inspired style and the poor acoustics of the theatre hall in the large central rotunda.
In the meantime, the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower were built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition on the opposite side of the Seine river and the rotunda blocked the panoramic view from the Chaillot hill.
For the 1937 Universal Exhibition, a complete modification of the building was carried out by Jacques Carlu. The new "Palais de Chaillot" was built on the foundations of the "Palais du Trocadéro".
A large theatre was slid underneath a central esplanade which replaced the rotunda and cleared the view toward the Eiffel Tower. In 1972, Jack Lang, director of the theatre at the time and future Cultural Minister, initiated a complete transformation of that hall into a modern, multifunctional theater designed by Valentin Fabre and Jean Perrottet.
However, the Théâtre National de Chaillot inherits an unresolved issue due to its urban location: situated opposite to the street, and five floors below, the delivery of stage sets remains nearly impossible.
Located in a UNESCO World Heritage site which it shares with two museums – the Cité de l'Architecture and the Musée de l'Homme – the prestigious Théâtre National de Chaillot was jostled by numerous transformations that never took its main functional issue into account. In order to solve that paradox, B+A Architects first established a master plan to guide all further transformations.
After a complete architectural and technical analysis of the building, an unexpected solution emerged: a backstage access from the street to both theatre halls via a tunnel dug in the quarries underneath the Palais de Chaillot.
With the larger “Vilar” theatre and both museums open to the public, works began on the tunnel, using ancestral quarrying techniques: each volume of rock extracted is simultaneously replaced by an equivalent reinforcement, so as never to destabilise the building above. At the same time, the replacement of the large public stepwell facing the Eiffel tower was carried out and provided the opportunity to enhance the volume of the smaller “Gémier” theatre, by digging deeper into the ground.
Rebuilt underneath the Chaillot terraces, the Gémier theatre is transformed into a flexible performance space, with a contemporary lobby and up-to-date stage machinery.
Through a complex and precise work on the ground levels, all areas of the theatre are now connected, including some almost forgotten historical halls.
Today, the new layout of the Théâtre National de Chaillot seems natural, although it was completely remodeled, providing a modern theatre in a historical set.
The Works :
Works on this particular building without facades required very specific technical skills, both ancient: tunneling, digging shafts, shoring, restoring decorations - and advanced: underpinning, large-scale heavy prefabrication, flexible assembly, precise adjustments with very reduced tolerance, illuminated ceilings, state of the art stage machinery… with a construction site set in a dense, highly touristic and historical environment.
The design and work progress was thoroughly documented in order to gather all essential information on the building in a unique data base available for further transformations.
The Palais du Trocadéro was designed by Gabriel Davioud for the Universal Exhibition of 1878 and built on the former gypsum quarries of the Hill of Chaillot. It was soon criticized for its outdated Moorish-inspired style and the poor acoustics of the theatre hall in the large central rotunda. In the meantime, the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower were built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition on the opposite side of the Seine river and the rotunda blocked the panoramic view from the...
- Year 2017
- Work finished in 2017
- Client Ministère de la Culture représenté par l’OPPIC
- Cost 14 M€
- Status Completed works
- Type Multi-purpose Cultural Centres / Theatres / Interior Design / Tunnels / Recovery/Restoration of Historic Buildings / Structural Consolidation / Dance academies