Permanent Exhibition Space

Paris, France

Pavillon de l'Arsenal

The "Pavillon de l’Arsenal" in Paris, built in 1878-79 by the architect Clément and restored in 1987-88 by Reichen and Robert, established itself in 1988 as a center for information, documentation and exhibition of architecture and urbanism.


A thin concrete shell is the basis for the entire design of the Pavillon de l’Arsenal’s permanent exhibition space. The shell is supported by itself and embraces wall, floor and ceiling in one continuous gesture in three dimensions. This allows for a spatial continuity between the Great Hall and its annex, forming one single-surface unit.

Thin skin

Cast in ultra-high-performance Ductal® concrete, the shell's skin is only 18
mm thick. It is active in the human sense – perceptive to temperature, sound,
smell and variations in the living material – as well as being structural, durable and recyclable.

Weightless screen

The mineral shell serves as a screen onto which the exhibition is projected.
Graphic documents and images are applied onto extremely thin (0.8 mm)
electroluminescent membranes. Completed with LCD screens and large-scale video presentations, the scenic space dissolves into visual weightlessness.

Shell construction

The shell is dissociated from floor, walls and ceiling. This void allows for the installation of projection devices, showcase displays, and access for necessary technical maintenance.


Innovative technology

The mineral shell serves as a screen onto which the exhibition is projected.
Graphic documents and images are applied onto extremely thin (0.8 mm)
electroluminescent membranes. Completed with LCD screens and large-scale video presentations, the scenic space dissolves into visual weightlessness.

Engagement in transformation

The nature of the exhibition space and its particular functionality leads to a continuous renewal of new material enabling the viewer’s active engagement with the city’s history in its continuous transformation


Light weight tables were designed for representation of models(120x120x45cm) in sandwich aluminium panles.

Project Data


A concrete skin with fiber reinforcement is slipped into a 19th century museum, creating a continuity of space and skin.

Client: Pavillon de l'Arsenal, Paris

Status: 2001/2003

Location: Pavillon de l'Arsenal, 21 boulevards Morland, 75004 Paris, France

Cost: 600,000 € (value 2003)

Surface: 1.200m²



Architects: LIN Architects Urbanists, Finn Geipel, Giulia Andi with David Letellier, Daniel Keppel, Guy Corbaz, Frédéric Fourrichon, Elies Garnaoui, Francisco Mexia Alves, Sofia Muzio, Amélie Poncéty, André Schmid,  Marie Taveau, Martin Tervoort, Berlin; Lighting engineer: Andy Sedgwick, Jeffrey Shaw, OVE Arup, London; Exhibition commissioner: Philippe Simon, Paris; Graphics: Fabien Hausseau and LIN Architects Urbanists; Concept climate: Louis Choulet; Scientific coordination: Martine Pitallier, research; Scientific concept: Philippe Simon, Paris; General coordination: Ann-José Arlot, General director of Pavillon de l'Arsenal untill April 2003: Dominique Alba; Coordination and installation of the exhibition: Alexandre Labasse, exhibitions department with Alexandra Plat, Gwenaelle Rivière, Guillaume Bouteille and Catherine Haas; Scientific coordination: Martine Pitallier, research; Material shells: Ductal, Lafarge; Prototypes and realization of shells: Bonna Sabla, Pierre Pallot; Installation and maintenance: IPC 95, Jean Pierre Ory, Electroluminescent system: CCC Electroluminescence, Bernard Lachkar; Audiovisual equipment: Philips; Furniture: JAAP, Anne Weingärtner; Alpinists: Altitudes, Rémi Canaple, Laurent Avare; Photography: Georges Fessy.

Pavillon de l'Arsenal
PAR-01-ESS-LIN-internal view, photo: G.Fessy
Image 1/10 PAR-01-ESS-LIN-internal view, photo: G.Fessy
PAR-02-LIN-ESS-exhibition space void model
Image 2/10 PAR-02-LIN-ESS-exhibition space void model
 PAR-03-LIN-ESS-surface, photo: G.Fessy
Image 3/10 PAR-03-LIN-ESS-surface, photo: G.Fessy
Thin skin
PAR-04-ESS-LIN-detail coque
Image 4/10 PAR-04-ESS-LIN-detail coque
PAR-05-ESS-LIN-real scale model
Image 5/10 PAR-05-ESS-LIN-real scale model
Weightless screen
Shell construction
PAR-06-ESS-LIN-construction panel, photo: G.Fessy
Image 6/10 PAR-06-ESS-LIN-construction panel, photo: G.Fessy
Image 7/10 PAR-07-ESS-LIN-plan
Innovative technology
PAR-08-ESS-LIN-electrolumuinescent membrane
Image 8/10 PAR-08-ESS-LIN-electrolumuinescent membrane
Engagement in transformation
 PAR-09-ESS-LIN-scenography, photo: G.Fessy
Image 9/10 PAR-09-ESS-LIN-scenography, photo: G.Fessy
 PAR-10-ESS-LIN-aluminium table-prototype, photo: G.Fessy
Image 10/10 PAR-10-ESS-LIN-aluminium table-prototype, photo: G.Fessy
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