Rudy Ricciotti: “The Sully barracks was Sleeping Beauty”

Rudy Ricciotti: “The Sully barracks was Sleeping Beauty”


Lhe Middle Ages with Cluny, the Renaissance with Écouen, the 19e with Orsay or the XXe century with Beaubourg already have their own museum. And if all goes well, the “Grand Siècle”, that of Poussin, Le Nain, Georges de La Tour and Jules Hardouin Mansart, will finally soon have its own. Originally wanted by Patrick Devedjiana great esthete and collector, to house, among other things, the collection of Pierre Rosenberg, rich in works from the 17e century, this ambitious museum, whose historian Alexandre Gady is leading the prefiguration mission with a bang, should open its doors at the end of 2025. It remains to transform the immense volumes of the former Sully barracks (Saint-Cloud), empty for eleven years and property of the Hauts-de-Seine department. It is the architect Rudy Ricciotti who has just been appointed to give substance to one of the most exciting cultural projects of the decade. Four years of work and an overall budget of 97 million euros are planned… He tells us.

Point : Did you know the Sully barracks? What seduced you, or on the contrary repelled you in these places?

Rudy-Ricciotti: I didn’t know this place, quite confidential and forgotten, as if suspended in time, lurking between the A13 motorway and the Seine. I felt the same questioning there as the first time I saw the Sleeping Beauty by Clyde Geronimi: Will Aurore wake up one day from her eternal sleep? What appealed to me was the possibility of making this place a popular museum, which could make people want to better understand the history of our country. These days, that was my only goal. How to make you want, you say? By practicing an art that requires initiation. Secrets, then. Nothing put me off. Nothing puts me off in general, except pitted olives. Finally, even if this is not the meaning of your question, I will always keep in mind that this place is marked by the tragic disappearance of Christophe Dominici on November 24, 2020.

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The barracks is wedged between two major highways: how do you plan to make its “access” more hospitable? Furthermore, did the transformation of a place used for logistics into an exhibition space as well as the heterogeneity of the periods of the different buildings represent particularly delicate challenges?

Access will be via the northern sector: a pedestrian square is planned to make access more fluid, more obvious. Access will also be possible from the Parc de Saint-Cloud. The recycling of built works is a benefit for the city, and the heterogeneity does not worry me: on the contrary, it is an opportunity to seize to create contrast, therefore awakening. For example, I can drink Châteauneuf with certain fish, unlike those who advocate homogeneity. Between hetero and homogeneity, I have long since chosen my side. The real complex and delicate challenge today is to produce generous architecture while being as inexpensive as possible. All public consultations are now based on this profession of faith: to be low on the cost of works, the fastest for studies. The rest, after forty years, I have mastered a little…

What are the spirit and main axes of your project? What materials are you going to use?

The spirit of the project could be summed up as follows: our era is defined on an identity base (man as subject and object) unlike the Grand Siècle, which was defined on a religious base (man as subject, God as object): there lies the difference in the possibilities of architectural responses. Architectural response to identity, demonstrative, with no other virtue than its own revealed obsession, or an initiated and progressive response? The profound virtue of the initiated architectural response is that it offers fertile questioning through a journey. Progress is perhaps the only aesthetic possibility, the only intellectual honesty in an era that is free from any consideration for what is called wisdom.

READ ALSORudy Ricciotti: “We have no lessons to learn from Paris”

Can you tell us more about the spectacular monumental staircase you plan to build?

The staircase you mention is called a “Chambord” staircase, with a double helix. It allows you to take the same staircase for entering and leaving the exhibition, without crossings. This rather magical principle was obviously theorized by Leonardo da Vinci, even if he did not build the Chambord staircase.

And this set of trees and concrete canopy, what is it?

We have provisionally named it the “Belvedere Pavilion” and it is the only museum building that will be built. Connected to the Charles X building by the basement, in a discreet and efficient way, the Belvedere is part of the tradition of the pavilion, or architectural madness, in the historical sense of the term: its composition in plan, rigorous and regulated, structured on a square frame, fits in a certain way with the heritage of the Grand Trianon: colonnade in peristyle, flat roof, transparency, generous luminosity, lightness… Its morphology comes from architectural “follies”, extravagant and naturalistic: forms organic and arborescent, pergola evoking an exoticism ardently dreamed of during the Grand Siècle. One of the singularities of this work is to propose a precious and scholarly architecture, resulting from the principle of structure. The architecture here is the structure, perhaps a sculpture? Mineral and feminine sculpture, very elaborate, geometrically skilful: the material used is an ultra-high performance fiber concrete. Material requiring a certain initiation in applied mathematics, in stereotomy, in research applied to the physics of solids. The scholarly and initiated architecture of the Grand Siècle finds here a heritage commensurate with the challenges expected from this operation: the slight appearance of the Belvedere pavilion logically takes its place in the layout of the Sully barracks. Subtle balance of the masses between the Belvedere and its historical, miniature, architectural, creative surroundings: the filiation, the link between what was heterogeneous is partly resolved through this Belvedere pavilion, like a structural key.

What does this project represent in your career?

This is not the first time that I have transformed a barracks into cultural equipment… And it is a particular honor for me to demonstrate that this heritage of the armies is still available and convertible for the benefit of the French, France and the amateur public. of culture.


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