Petit-Bain Cultural Floating Building / by ENCORE HEUREUX architects

Petit-Bain Cultural Floating Building / by ENCORE HEUREUX architects


Since 1995, the Guinguette Pirate has developed an artistic and cultural project on the water, refered to as «intermediate» boats, heritage boats rehabilitated into concert halls (the Guinguette Pirate and Batofar) and through interdisciplinary and outdoor events : «Musée imagianire», «Café de la marine», «Piratages» and «Sous la Plage». It is for the 2004 festival Sous la Plage, that ENCORE HEUREUX had carte blanche and produced a temporary installation with hundreds of hanging zebras «Sous les Zèbres».

In 2006, the Guinguette Pirate asks ENCORE HEUREUX to produce schematics for the conversion of a boat, the Emile Allard, into a cultural venue. However, ultimately the construction of a completely new barge that was chosen for the Petit-Bain project.

Petit-Bain Cultural Floating Building / by ENCORE HEUREUX architects

Architectural Proposal

Despite being determined by the constraints of navigation, Petit-Bain is not a boat, but a building floating on the Seine. Built in a shipyard near to Paris, its measures 40 m in length and 10.5 m wide in order to pass through locks and under bridges and draws 5 meters. Permanently moored at le port de la gare, the building is composed of three levels with the concert hall in the hull, creating a double height space in front of the stage that is unexpected from the dock.

Suspended in the air, above the public, a large buoy coated with mirror facets inundates the room with thousands of light flashes. To contrast with the whole hull and the structure made of steel, the superstructure is covered with wood: pine plywood in the restaurant on the inside and vertical slatted larch cladding outside. On the terrace, an unusual garden to be enjoyed by the public allows views of the Seine. Recovered from the demolition of a social housing complex and given by the town of Romainville, 33 white tubs are filled with aquatic plants, as a counterpoint that illustrates the name of this new floating cultural equipment.

In shades that range from bright yellow to pale green, the hull, decks and access underline this island in the city and livens the greyness of the dock. In his photographic work on France, Raymond Depardon stated: «The cool colors are supposed to be modern, in contrast to yellow for example. It’s hard yellow. And it’s beautiful too.»

Petit-Bain Cultural Floating Building / by ENCORE HEUREUX architects

Cultural Project
In 2006, the association Guinguette Pirate leaves La Jonque Chinoise (now Dame de Canton) and begins to think about a project that fits their desires, commitments, vision, that of a floating and protean barge: Petit Bain.

The desire to see emerge in Paris, an alternate venue that is independent, which links artistic, economic and social issues has been realized thanks to the the Autonomous Port of Paris’ will to create a strong cultural centre in the 13th district , with support from the City of Paris and the Ile-de-France region as well as that of many partners and artists. Committed to fostering innovative artistic approaches, Petit Bain offers events year-round that seek to expose the diversity of global cultural productions: music, dance, graphic design, illustration, food, vegetables …

Petit Bain has positioned itself in the field of experimentation around popular music and intends to represent what Edouard Glissant calls the «creolization of the world.» This revolution affects creative contemporary music, all over the world, particularly in urban and cosmopolitan settings. The dichotomy between western music (rock, pop, electro, folk …) and «world music» is fading. Trends merge to produce crossbred projects. From Vietnamese rock to Turkish tango, to African hip-hop, electro cumbia Argentina, or Parisian psyche folk, Petit Bain seeks to support these musical
groups that exist on the borders of genres and sometimes of disciplines.

Petit-Bain Cultural Floating Building / by ENCORE HEUREUX architects

Social Project

The teams of the Guinguette Pirate and the association Le Bouquin Affamé share common values and desires to see the birth of a cultural center in Paris that can link the social, cultural and economic, without the rule of one over the other.

Petit Bain is a company which beyond the economic and artistic project develops a social project. Believing that work is an essential vehicle for integration, and that a company is a space for training, the team of Petit Bain wants to participate in the re-socialization of people excluded from the world of work and thereby in a position of social exclusion. This commitment is reflected in the hiring of persons eligible for the integration contract (Contrat d’Insertion is a state-sponsored retraining and integration program).

Choosing this form is, for Petit Bain, the opportunity to join the ethical values of participation, solidarity, community service or transparency and legitimacy of power. Indeed, the cooperative structure chosen by Petit Bain enables the association of multiple stakeholders around the same project: employees, volunteers, users, public authorities, companies, associations, individuals …

Download Plan (pdf)

Key data

Client : Association la Guinguette Pirate
Architect : ENCORE HEUREUX architects
Global amount of work : 1.7 Millions €
Montant de l’opération : 2.2 Millions €
Surface : 550 m² (+ 365 m² extérieur)
Weight : 470 tonnes
Dimensions : 40 m x 10.5 m x 6 m
Delivery : 5 july 2011


Concert room for 450 people
A restaurant of 70 seats
A flat roof accessible by the public
Offices and a multimédia studio


Escale 7 du Port de la Gare – Paris 13ème
right next to the National Library François Mitterrand

«Petit-Bain is situated in a gold triangle btween :
– Simone de Beauvoir (the footbridge),
– Joséphine Baker (the floating swimming pool)
– François Miterrand (lthe natioanl library)»

Client :
Association la Guinguette Pirate
Haed of project Ricardo Esteban and Antoine Thibault
Architect :
ENCORE HEUREUX architects / Julien Choppin and Nicola Delon
Head of project : Margot Cordier
FDI Jehan Ferber, naval expert

Firms :
Dockyard: Chantiers de la Haute Seine – group CEMEX
Electricity : ENERGIE 2000
Plumbing : ANDRADE
Gangways : PECH’ALU international
Woodwork / Plasterwork : SOFRADI
Balustrade : C-CUBE
Smoke ejection : AIRSUN
Tiling : Florin GHERTAN
Fourniture : LA FABRIQUE DE L’ESTChristophe Girard,
mayor assistant of Paris, In charge of culture.