One building, how many lives? Exhibition in Paris: transformation as an act of creation

The exhibition focuses on an inherent issue of urban development: to reuse, in order to open the way for an urban revival. The concept of recycling as a way to stimulate a new approach on building cities.


Le Frac Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Dunkerque, 2009-2013, Lacaton & Vassal architectes © Philippe Ruault

Le Frac Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Dunkerque, 2009-2013, Lacaton & Vassal architectes © Philippe Ruault


Cité de l’rchitecture & du patrimoine in Paris is hosting an exhibition on an interesting discussion over architectural heritage and the concept of reuse and recylcing in urban terms. From the 17th of December 2014 to the 28th of September 2015, the Galerie d’architecture moderne will be showing a selection of 72 projects in France and abroad in order to set some examples of heritage-conscious urban renewal addressed from very different point of views.

The purpose of this exhibition -in non-nostalgic, ethical terms- is to focus the architectural discussion on the transformation of modernist heritage (mid-nineteenth to late twentieth century), particularly that of the period between WWI and WWII, the least considered and most at risk because of being often judged as easily renewable, if not more easily “disposable”.


Le Musée maritime national du Danemark, Helsingør, 2007-2013, BIG architectes © Luca Santiago Mora

Le Musée maritime national du Danemark, Helsingør, 2007-2013, BIG architectes © Luca Santiago Mora

Le Centre culturel C-Mine, Genk, province de Limbourg, Belgique, 2005-2010, 51N4E architectes © Stijn Bollaert

Le Centre culturel C-Mine, Genk, province de Limbourg, Belgique, 2005-2010, 51N4E architectes © Stijn Bollaert

La Cour de justice des communautés européennes, Luxembourg, 1996-2008 et 2013- 2018, Dominique Perrault Architecture © Georges Fessy / DPA / Adagp

La Cour de justice des communautés européennes, Luxembourg, 1996-2008 et 2013- 2018, Dominique Perrault Architecture © Georges Fessy / DPA / Adagp


This type of “transgression” – different from restoration and rehabilitation – is bound to become a cliché  in the processes of reversibility in the contemporary city. To reuse and to recycle is the logic of our time, a process that is approached in terms of the strategies needed to develop in a sustainable way. “The transformable is long-lasting”, says Christian de Portzamparc. Reversibility is synonymous with mutability -to give a second life (or even a third ) to quality architecture as well as mundane buildings. For a long time , this type of renovation project was considered as mere technical work, simple and conforming -the challenge is to demonstrate that it is a creative act in itself.


La Nave de la Música, Le Matadero, Madrid, 2011, Langarita-Navarro Arquitectos ©Luis Diaz Diaz

La Nave de la Música, Le Matadero, Madrid, 2011, Langarita-Navarro Arquitectos ©Luis Diaz Diaz

L’Alvéole 14, Saint-Nazaire, Loire-Atlantique, 2003- 2005, LIN architectes © Jan-Oliver Kunze

L’Alvéole 14, Saint-Nazaire, Loire-Atlantique, 2003-2005, LIN architectes © Jan-Oliver Kunze

Le Mémorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage, quai de la Fosse, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, 2003-2012, Wodiczko + Bonder, Architecture, Art & Design © Philippe Ruault

Le Mémorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage, quai de la Fosse, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, 2003-2012, Wodiczko + Bonder, Architecture, Art & Design © Philippe Ruault


Through eight themes -ranging from heritage evidence to the  regain of the mundane, through recycling in favour of housing and infrastructures – 72 projects in France and Europe are presented. Each topic is treated through three projects , usually two in France, one abroad. The projects presented over the nine months of the exhibition will be updated every three months.


Centre Prouvé-palais des congrès, Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle, 2007-2014, Atelier Marc Barani © Olivier Dancy

Centre Prouvé-palais des congrès, Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle, 2007-2014, Atelier Marc Barani © Olivier Dancy

Le Musée maritime d’Estonie, Tallinn, 2009-2012, KOKO architectes © Kaido Haagen

Le Musée maritime d’Estonie, Tallinn, 2009-2012, KOKO architectes © Kaido Haagen


A timeline (1960-2014) summarizes the stages of this transformation process in the world over the last fifty years. Six interviews with architects who have made ​​several changes in this field showcase the diversity of approaches.


Im Viadukt, Zürich, 2004-2010, EM2N architectes © Ralph Hut

Im Viadukt, Zürich, 2004-2010, EM2N architectes © Ralph Hut

La Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris XIIIe, 2006-2014, Renzo Piano Building Workshop © Michel Denancé

La Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris XIIIe, 2006-2014, Renzo Piano Building Workshop © Michel Denancé

La Mina, Sant’Adrià de Besòs, Barcelone, 2001- 2012, Jornet Llop Pastor architectes urbanistes © Jornet Llop Pastor

La Mina, Sant’Adrià de Besòs, Barcelone, 2001-2012, Jornet Llop Pastor architectes urbanistes © Jornet Llop Pastor



Practical Info

Un bâtiment, combien de vies? Transformation comme acte de création.

Part 1 : December 17, 2014 – March 2, 2015
Part 2 : March 11 – May 14, 2015
Part 3 : June 3 – September 28, 2015

Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine
Galerie d’architecture moderne et contemporaine
1 place du Trocadéro, Paris

Entrance to the exhibition is free with the regular access ticket (6€/8€)



Exhibition information via Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine de Paris. All rights reserved.