Designated as an “absolute engineering marvel”, the Grand Palais Éphémère becomes the new enormous pop-up version of the Grand Palais. The temporary exhibition hall in the Champ de Mars will be dismantled in 2024. Yet, before it goes down in history, it will host some of the most iconic events in Paris.
For the time the emblematic Grand Palais is closed for major restoration work, this ephemeral building is intended to house the major art, fashion, and sporting events, with the FIAC, Saut Hermès, Chanel fashion shows, judo and wrestling competitions during the Paris Olympic Games (in 2024), and Paris+ Art Basel among them. A solo exhibition of Anselm Kiefer, from December 2021 to January 2022, took place here as well.
Boasting a dramatically curved roof, the 10,000 square-meter structure is the vision of the French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, and was assembled over three months during the pandemic. The building is able to accommodate 9.000 people, and it costed €40 million ($46.8 million) to the city.
The slightly curved design follows the curve of the feet of the Eiffel Tower viewed from its perspective. The height has been strictly limited to the needs of future use and therefore leaves the dome of the Military School sixteen meters higher, so as not to hide it.
Fitting into the prestigious site perfectly, highly connected to the world’s fairs which took place on the esplanade from 1867, the Grand Palais Éphémère has a main nave, completely free of any posts or structural elements interrupting the space.
Designed with reusability in mind, its prefabricated elements can be reassembled in other configurations elsewhere after it is dismantled in September 2024. The building is a flexible, agile, circular bio-sourced construction, designed in wood, a renewable resource, from a sustainably managed forest (PEFC).
The typology of the multi-disciplinary space is in a similar spirit to that of the Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York, the Factory by Rem Koolhaas in Manchester, and the Museum of 20th Century by Herzog and de Meuron in Berlin.
“What’s interesting today is to have places that can receive and adapt to very different events,” the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.