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Nouvel boycotts opening of own Philharmonie de Paris

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French architect Jean Nouvel last week boycotted the opening of the new Philharmonie de Paris building, claiming that it was opened prematurely

The building was opened in a ceremony in the French capital on Wednesday (14 January), with a speech by French president Francois Hollande followed by a concert.

But Nouvel was absent from proceedings, having attacked the decision to open the venue without, he said, proper acoustic testing.

Writing in an article for Le Monde, this week, Nouvel said: ‘Against all the advice of its architect since 2013, the building was opened in a schedule that does not allow to meet the architectural and technical requirements.’

In a statement on his website, Novel also rejected stories in the press which had laid blame at his feet for spiralling costs on the project. The scheme, at €390million, has run three times over budget.

Nouvel said: ‘These charges are unfounded and highly prejudicial to me and to Ateliers Jean Nouvel.

‘I will not tolerate that untruthful, defamatory and disparaging writings or comments are made about me.’

He cited a report to the French Senate from 2012 which said that costs had been underestimated before the launch of the competition to find an architect for the project.

In Le Monde, Novel said that the episode ‘should open a debate on the architect’s missions, the owner and the contractor in our society, as well as the control of the use of public money in public buildings’

Critical reaction to the new building appears to lend some weight to Nouvel’s criticisms.

Francis Carlin, writing in the FT, said that the acoustics are ‘not yet in the same league as international benchmarks’ with the sound ‘patchy, lacking in clarity in grand orchestral tutti and generally over-reverberant’.

Writing on his blog, Marshall Marcus, former head of music at the Southbank Centre and Royal Festival Hall said: ‘Time and again though, details amazed me. Big final chords positively erupted into the hall with a reverberation that is still, the following day, an excitement to remember.’

But he added that the violins often sounded ‘as if behind a veil’.

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