In the Eye of
The Renaissance project : the renovation of an iconic building
01 June 2019
Paris , France
Tristan Auer, renowned interior designer, and Stephanie Bensimon, Managing Director at Ardian Real Estate, talk about the Renaissance project: the renovation of the former Europe 1 radio headquarters, recently acquired by Ardian in Paris’ prestigious 8th district. Together they take us behind the scenes of the redevelopment of this landmark building.
You’re listening to In Conversation, a podcast by Ardian. Today we’ll take you behind the scenes of the redevelopment of an iconic building, recently acquired by Ardian, in Paris’ prestigious 8th district. I’ll be speaking with interior designer Tristan Auer, and Stephanie Bensimon, Managing Director at Ardian Real Estate, about the challenges and the joys of ‘Renaissance.’ I’m your host Mary Brigid Adams. Welcome to In Conversation.
[Mary] Stephanie, could you start by giving us some background? How the project came about, and why the choice to work with Tristan?
[Stephanie] Ardian bought this building in July 2018 to be partially demolished and redeveloped into a mix of offices and high-end luxury boutiques. The building was home to an iconic radio station, Europe 1, for more than 5 decades, therefore it had a rich history. Basically, we needed someone to decorate the specific “public” office spaces, like the lobby, meeting rooms, with fresh eyes, not just a decorator or someone who only worked on offices. We were familiar with Tristan’s work, his universe, and it is quite exceptional. We liked that he is not specialized in any one domain.
Actually, I am specialized in non-specialization! I do a lot of very different things, and I think we are never as good as when we try something totally new. And as with all of my projects, it’s a matter of life or death, I’m all in, or I don’t even bother to take on the project, which is often the case.
[Mary] Stephanie, what was in the brief you gave Tristan, or was there a brief?
[Stephanie] In fact there was no precise brief, because the idea was to work with a visionary like Tristan.
We told him that we wanted a certain atmosphere, a place that would respond to the needs of today’s tenants, and give them something truly unique, where they would feel at home.
We said, ‘how can we make offices without making offices?’
[Mary] So what excited you most about this project Tristan?
[Tristan] It was, quite simply, the excellence. To push the boundaries a little, to create something truly exceptional: modern offices for today that would also be timeless. This project is also quite unusual because we don’t know who the tenants will be yet! Therefore we are working in an abstract, open way, with an aim to please as many people as we can.
What also really appealed to me was the challenge to create something meaningful. It's not every day that we have the chance to work on a building as iconic as this one. The history of the building itself, the street, the Golden Triangle, Paris… these are attractive spheres that bring people in. And this has to come through--without being too flashy.
We also realized that we had a certain responsibility, because we would potentially be changing the face of this street. In fact it’s not just 1 building, but 4 buildings, it’s just huge. That’s why we call it ‘Renaissance’: we are linking the history of this building and of this street to something brand new inside. We felt a rather strong sense of commitment from day 1 to create something meaningful. Which is also part of the reason we chose to work with Tristan.
There is also the responsibility as a "creator" in the eyes of the world. I’ve been in Dubai and LA recently, and people there are watching what we are doing in France. I feel a responsibility not to disappoint. This pushes me to work a little harder, to be a little better.
The idea here is to make people feel like they are in a 5-star hotel or a palace in these offices. But that doesn’t mean lining the walls in gold! In terms of flow and how we organize the space, it means allowing people to best serve others.
It’s all a bit abstract, but this allows us to avoid getting caught up in the latest trends, that in a few years will already be passé. We are trying to create luxurious spaces which are however discreet enough to suit all potential tenant. We’d rather do something sustainable over the long term in terms of style and choices of material.
[Mary] How far along are you, and how are things going so far?
[Tristan] We are on track to complete the redevelopment in 2 years. It’s funny, you never know how well you will get on with clients and teams. What luck I’ve had on this project! People are driven and motivated--and this is not always the case! It makes the project even better for me.
[Stephanie] That’s true, and it’s rather brilliant! I find that Tristan really listens to our needs. And he’s right, it’s rare to find a team with the same vision, the same vigilance, the same ambition and desire to create something meaningful. We are definitely lucky.