end of a pharaonic fifteen-year project

The letters “Radio France” had disappeared from the facade this week. They reappeared, cleaned and moved, to be “well placed” compared to the new logo being installed.

It is not, however, this symbol which marks the “end of the historic site” of the “rehabilitation of the House of Radio and Music “, announced Friday, December 1 in a press release from the public radio group. Some employees were even surprised by such a decision, while “design studios are still under construction” and that’“some of the teams have not been reinstated” in the Round House.

“We have passed the most decisive phase”explains Sidonie Guenin, the director of rehabilitation since 2018. This stage closes a loop opened two decades earlier when, in 2003, the safety commission of the prefecture of Paris had issued an unfavorable opinion on the fire standards of the building.. It was therefore necessary to close the tower and the surrounding premises without delay.

A large-scale operation was then urgently launched to rehabilitate and secure the Round House. ” On November 14, the commission authorized us to open the last part of the building, which had just been rehabilitated”explains the manager of the rehabilitation and security program for this circular building of 90,000 m2, designed by the architect Henry Bernard, and inaugurated in 1963 by General de Gaulle. It’s a difficult story that ends “.

A project of 493 million euros

The choice was made at the time to rehabilitate on an occupied site, that is to say by organizing the works in such a way as to continue the activities of the seven radio stations and four musical groups. “ We had few elements of comparison for buildings as complex as Radio France, both a high-rise building, a place open to the public, and a listed heritage building in 2018. Suffice to say that we did not put all the chances of our side so that the operation proceeds like a long calm river”, understatement Sidonie Guenin. It was necessary to proceed step by step by moving the teams, depending on the “hazard” such as the discovery of asbestos or dilapidated structures.

The cost of rehabilitating the 21st Century Colosseum “, as Henry Bernard had imagined, was estimated at 328.2 million euros in 2010. It soared to 430 million at the end of 2016. After six phases of construction, its final cost amounts to 493 million euros. euros.

After the interruption of work equivalent to “four to five months” linked to the health crisis, it was necessary to overhaul the public contract signed with the fifty or so companies. “In the end, the deadlines were met and the budget, reviewed in 2018, was optimized “says the director of the site designed by Architecturesstudio and completed by SRA Architectures.

New musical vocation

After the auditorium (1,460 seats), the restoration of studio 104 (856 seats), the agora, the restaurant, the foyers and 38,000 m2 of office space, all that remained was to renovate the outer crown and ” pedestal “maze of electrical, electronic or plumbing networks in the basement.

“This is the least visible part of the iceberg, but the most fundamentalnotes Sidonie Guenin. The fourteen creative studios still under renovation are part of another phase of work which will be completed in two and a half years”.

As for the France Bleu or administration teams, who had to move to neighboring premises, they will return to the round house by the end of 2023.

“The finalization of the rehabilitation project was the priority of my mandate, underlines in a press release, Sibyle Veil, president of Radio France, candidate for a second term. These works, according to her, “honor to the history and future of our house” by allowing him “to remain a place of excellence in radio and musical production” but also a “home of culture in all its forms”.

On the occasion of this project, designed by integrating climate issues (geothermal energy, led lighting, etc.), monumental works of art by Pierre Soulages, Alfred Manessier or Gustave Singier were restored and enhanced in the new open foyers to the public.


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