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Competition: Chambre des Notaires de Paris

The Chambre des Notaires de Paris has launched an international contest to revamp its landmark 1857 home in central Paris (Deadline: 27 February)

The competition seeks innovative proposals for an €8 million overhaul of the historic institute on Avenue Victoria which represents the interests of the city’s notarial profession – public officials authorised to carry out certain legal procedures.

The 3,400m² project will transform the prominent building overlooking the River Seine into a ‘place of innovation, exchanges and interactions with the public’. Between three and five teams will be invited to participate in the design round following an open call for CVs, portfolios, and written expressions of interest.

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

In its brief, the organisation says its building ‘no longer appears to be well suited to the notaries’ practice, considering the modernisation of the profession. Through this competition, the Chambre des Notaires’ members wish to renovate the building, by rethinking its internal organisation and all the activities it hosts.

‘Beyond a simple renovation of the Hôtel de la Chambre des Notaires, this will involve a deep restructure of the programme and a true reflection on the challenges of the profession, to take advantage of the building’s outstanding position and to strengthen the presence of the notaries. The building, its functions, and its future arrangement, far from merely embodying the solemnity of the institution, will have to convey the dynamism of a profession in constant evolution.’

The Chambre des Notaires de Paris is based inside a landmark complex, known as the Hôtel du Châtelet and designed by the architects Jules A. Pellechet and Charles Rohault de Fleury.

The six-storey structure is considered no longer fit-for-purpose and the latest contest, organised by Because Architecture Matters, aims to identify a strategy to restore and reconfigure the headquarters building so it can better serve its profession.

The completed scheme will feature an entrance hall, waiting area, temporary reception, offices, business incubator, co-working space, café, meeting rooms, archive, amphitheatre, a library, dining room, restrooms, and kitchens.

Shortlisted teams will be announced on 11 March and given until 31 May to submit concepts. Each finalist will receive a €25,000 honorarium. The winner’s fee is expected to be around 14 per cent of the total project cost.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 27 February

Fee

€100

Contact details

Email: concours@bam.archi

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Boris Lefèvre

The chief operating officer and co-founder of Because Architecture Matters discusses his ambitions for the competition

Why are your holding an international contest to restore and reconfigure the Chambre des notaires de Paris?

The Chambre des notaires de Paris is a remarkable and historic building in the very centre of Paris. This building has received several interventions in the past which have not always worked together coherently. For this reason the notaries wanted to rethink their building entirely. Our job has been to advise them on the renovation programme and to organise an international competition.

The contest seemed to be the best option for such an important project for two reasons: firstly, it allowed us to disassociate the programme formulation, architect selection and conception phases which is essential for this kind of project. Secondly – considering the project will affect this building and the place du Châtelet for decades – it was important for the notaries to be able to attract the best talents in France and in the world to give the best answer to this programme.

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

What is your vision for the newly transformed historic building?

The renovation of this building has 4 main objectives. Firstly, to turn the building into a true ‘house of notaries’. The building was constructed for notaries in the 19th century but nowadays very few come naturally into the building. One of the main goals is to make notaries come back into their building and to have them enjoy this fabulous site. The second objective is to open the doors of the notarial profession to the public. As the notary profession is often viewed as incomprehensible by the public, the new building should invite the public into the notary’s universe and share new spaces with them. The third objective is to embody the dynamism of a profession looking to the future. Notaries are really innovative in their profession (for example exploring the digitisation of contracts through blockchain technology) and the building has to reflect this change in the profession’s outlook. The fourth objective is to highlight the landmark’s under-exploited heritage. The historic potential of this building is obvious; one of the main goals of the project is to reveal all its potential. Taking all these objectives into account will be a challenge but it will make a new force from this building. In the past, the ground floor was way more open than it is nowadays. We can easily imagine a project in which the historic street front is recovered and a new place is created, which notaries will visit frequently and enjoy time with their colleagues and with the wider public.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We are expecting teams from all over the world to participate in the competition. This contest is an opportunity for emerging architects to propose a new and intelligent vision for this old building and we really hope to recognise new talents with this project. Considering the building’s central position in Paris, its historic potential and the potentially symbolic impact of the project, this competition is an interesting opportunity for emerging architects as well as for experienced ones.

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

For the past three years BAM has been reinventing architectural competition organisation for private project owners in France and Europe. We have organised competitions for the renovation of wineries, for new collective housing and so on. We are currently working on other interesting projects such as an ecological hotel complex on a Mediterranean island, and the renovations of Chateaux around Paris. Beyond that, we think it is essential for architects to not only conceive architectural projects, but also to engage in prospective and/or substantive reflections on the challenges our society is facing. That’s why in the next few weeks we will launch our first international architecture competition for students and young professionals. It will be focused on the same brief as the competition for the Chambre des Notaires de Paris, but will be much more open and forward-looking. The winner of this student competition, in addition to some prizes, will have the opportunity to join the winning team of the main competition.

Are there any other historic restoration projects using you have been impressed by?

We instinctively think about Thomas Heatherwick’s 2017 Zeitz MOCCA in Cape Town. Of course it does not concern a historic heritage as old as the Chamber of Notaries, but an industrial heritage of the early twentieth century. We have however been touched by the balance between the restoration and enhancement of the silos’ legacy that the project allows, while radically transforming this heritage to make it attractive to the general public and in-keeping with its function as an art museum. Perhaps like many architects of our generation, we have a romantic vision of industrial heritage that makes us particularly sensitive to this type of project. Closer to our subject, David Chipperfield’s 2009 Neues Museum restoration in Berlin is another good example which speaks for itself.

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

Chambre des Notaires de Paris

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