An emblematic site of French Heritage, The National Library of France went through massive renovation works, which lasted 12 years. The delivery of the garden designed by MUGO completes the redevelopment of the Richelieu site, the historic birthplace of The National Library of France and a major monument for the Ministry of Culture.
The reopening of the site marks the 300th anniversary of its first installation in the former Mazarin Palace in 1721-1722. To celebrate the rebirth of this building and the garden, a festive and free program entitled « Richelieu, the Awakening » will take place during the 2022 Heritage Days.
The commissioned garden, an absolute green work of art, was delivered by artist-gardener Gilles Clément, landscaping agency Tout Se Transforme, the MUGO Group, the ON agency and sculptor Jean-François Salle as part of the “1% artistique” (a public art grant), supported by OPPIC and the Ministry of Culture. It was built in less than six months by the MUGO Group using 40 “workers” (gardeners, bricklayers…).
The garden acts as the new entrance of the Richelieu site welcoming visitors and transcending the history of the place. It invites visitors to follow in the footsteps of Mazarin, Mansart and Labrouste. As a reminder of the BnF’s vocation, the garden features the same plants as the ones used for the books kept in the library.
Hortus Papyrifera, a paper garden
Entitled “Hortus Papyrifera”, the project has a direct connexion to the BnF, an emblematic place dedicated to the preservation of works on paper. Book comes from the Latin “Liber“, which refers to the living layer of the bark on which people used to write.
Hemp Palm (Trachycarpus Fortunei), Paper Mulberry tree (Broussonetia Papyrifera), Cespitose Camboo (Fargesia Papyrifera), Chinese rice-paper plant (Tetrapanax Papyrifera), Paper Bush (Edgeworthia Papyrifera), Paper Birch (Betula Papyrifera), and Papyrus (Cyperuspapyrus) are paper plant species famous for being used in the development of writing and printing media.
To keep in line with the planting seasons the last plants will be planted in November, ending the organisation of the garden, which is expected to develop fully within three to five years.
The project is about replicating a garden in the same spot where Cardinal Mazarin had his palace’s garden built in the 17th century. The garden was then rebuilt by Labrouste in its current form in the mid-19th century. The drawing loosely follows the historic outline and the original symmetrical composition, which divides the space into paths and flowerbeds around the central fountain. It is based on old tracks found in the ground.
The reproduction and expansion of the former composition enable the creation of secondary alleyways which lead to “green reading rooms”. Immersed in a lush vegetation these spaces provide a more intimate atmosphere. Euville Stone static benches of different dimensions have been installed to invite visitors to meditate or read.
The garden’s walkways are designed to blend with the facades of Hotel Tubeuf and the Galerie Mansart, by featuring clay brick cladding with various colours (red, brown and black). In terms of decoration, seven marble Medici vases and two marble and stone fire pots have been restored.
MUGO’s teams are very proud of this garden, a major artistic work for the city of Paris. This incredible achievement, a result of a collective effort, is the ultimate recognition of MUGO Group’s expertise and know-how on unique and exceptional projects.
Contracting authority: OPPIC – Ministry of Culture
Architects: Bruno Gaudin, Jean-François Lagneau (ACMH), and Michel Trubert (ACMH)
The 1% artistique Group
Artist-gardener: Gilles Clément
Landscape Design: Tout Se Transforme (Antoine Quénardel and Mirabelle Croizier)
Landscape building work: MUGO
Lighting Design: ON agency
Sculptor: Jean-François Salle
Economist: Thierry Montagne
A few figures
- 3, 000 hours of work
- 40 workers took part in the building works, led by Nicolas Vignaud, Thierry Vantyghem and Cédric Tardif
- 70,000 oven-baked bricks and half-bricks for the 700 m² walkways
- 180 m3 of soil for the flowerbeds
- 18 Hemp Palm (Trachycarpus Fortunei) from 4 to 12 meter high
- 3 Paper Birch (Betula Papyrifera) from 4.5 to 5 meter high
- 3 Lacebark Pine (Pinus Bungeana) from 3.5 to 4 meter high
- 2 Paper Mulberry tree (Broussonetia Papyrifera)
- Walkway/Pathways: SATP
- Bricks: De Wulf
- Stones and benches: Rocamat
- Lighting structure: Technilum
- Nurseries: Verteligne, Daniel Soupe and Plateau de Versailles