The POPB is the largest multifunctional sports and concerts center of France, hosting for the last 30 years concerts, shows and sports events. Its location along the river Seine, downtown Paris, is exceptional. It is also an iconic and representative building of the architecture of the 1980s in Paris.
However, the building had aged, and was not any more compliant in 2012 with the current security, environmentand safety regulations. Even more importantly, it did not meet the new expectations of either the spectators or the artists and sportsmen.
The specificity and uniqueness of the POPB led to question our intervention on this existing building, in technical and architectural terms. We had to figure out how to respect the original project while offering to the spectators the experience of a 21st Century Arena.
Moreover, the transformation involved singular technical challenges, confronting a new program with a remarkable existing envelope.
Outside, it seemed essential to us to keep the familiar shape of the building, with its blue metal grid on the roof and green natural lawns sloping. But the building was totally closed: we opened it on its immediate context, in a fine tuned transparency on the street, the boulevard and the river Seine. We therefore created and a glazed hall at street level, daily open to the public, terraces on the building, a promenade from the street to the river Seine and a Seine-side entrance. The new Arena is inviting the neighborhood to discover the life of the building.
We also worked on creating transitional spaces to accompany the spectator from the ambiance and life of the city to the heterotopic universe of the show. Bars, exhibition spaces and restaurants around the arena create an inside/outside ambiance and have been designed in a delicate Parisian spirit, with natural, bright and warm materials. The interior spaces have been entirely reconfigured to improve functionality, comfort, and acoustics. And natural light now enters at the heart of the building.
In the arena itself the mutation is even bigger: increasing the number of seats (20 300 instead of 17 000), tripling the number of VIP suites (18 to 54) and … switching from 300 sqm of lounges to 3 000 sqm! No need to say this transformation included acoustics, the design of new comfortable seats, temperature control, modularity, flexibility and again a specific study of materials colors to focus on the event and enhance the show.
The energy consumption has been divided by four, thanks to improvements on the envelope, the control of the energy in the building and in using more efficient machines: the project complies with the Climate Plan of the City of Paris. Most of these interventions, invisible to the eye of the visitors, are crucial for the diversity of events and the quality of experiences.
The POPB, transformed into the Accor Hotels Arena, is now ready to welcome all sports, concerts and events of the XXIst century.
Good design is good business :
More than any other project, the business plan of the future Arena was key in the project, for a simple reason: the refurbishment is paid by a loan on future revenues!
Therefore, architecture, business plan and engineering have been intimately worked together.
Of course, giving a new experience to the customer/client/spectator/fan has been key in the project, including welcoming, ambiance, acoustics, comfort, new seats, and providing more services than in any arena in the word.
The services include a main hall that can accommodate exhibitions and 5 partner’s showrooms, a lounge bar and restaurant on the street, 15 bars and restaurants with a “French” quality of fooding around the arena, wifi and IT services to customers, direct access from parking, valet services… All those services had to be thought and integrated in the conception, including a central kitchen to prepare the quality of food expected with a chef…
To increase the revenue of the arena, multiple functions and capabilities have been dramatically transformed: - Capacity of the arena, increased by 20%, from 17 000 to 20 300 - Capacity on VIP seating, increased by 566%, from 300 to 2 000 - Capacity of VIP lounges, increased by 900%, from 300 sqm to 3 000sqm - Number of cash desks for food and beverage, increased by 100%, from 25 to 50 - Food and Beverage revenue increased by 100% - Flexibility of the arena to be able to welcome new events and also more events around the year, sometimes a new event each day of the week, increasing the number of events by 50%, from 120 to 180.
Even more importantly, the arena has been designed to integrate a naming that did not exist before, and triple the number of partnerships (the fi gures are confi dential). The Accor Hotels Arena is the highest partnership revenue arena in France…, in a branding that mix sports, fun, events, experience, comfort and luxury.
As said before, the sustainable architecture developed on the project did also have positive financial impact, reducing the consumptions of the building by 4!
Finally, the refurbishment had to take into account the schedule of the Arena, making possible the masters 1000 and 20 concerts in a temporary reopening of the building, being held in a incredibly fast work schedule, 7 months/reopening/10 months, as well as a unique budget 110 million euro with no overcost!!!).
If the POPB did employ 100 to 250 people, even if diffi cult to say already, but the Accor Hotels Arena employs 400 to 600 people, in more skilled functions, and a stronger corporate identity.
The mutation of the POPB in the Accor Hotels Arenan began with architecture and has created a change of culture for all French entertainment economy.