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How well do you know the Espro?

June 21 will mark the reopening of IRCAM's iconic main hall—created under the direction of Pierre Boulez—which has been closed for eight years due to renovation works. Here is a look at the specificities of this space and the last phase of the construction project: the installation of the periacts.

Located in the heart of the Place Stravinsky building, the Espace de projection (otherwise known as the Espro) is the place where IRCAM and the public meet, a unique space whose acoustics and scenography can be modified. As its name indicates, "Espro" is not a concert hall like any other.

"This space is really not a concert hall, but it can project sound, light, audiovisual events, all possible events that are not necessarily related to traditional instruments" in the words of its inventor Pierre Boulez, during his inaugural speech of the Espro in 1978.

The utopia remains alive and today IRCAM offers artistic experiences that spectators can't find anywhere else. A place of experimentation, a place of expression for science and the arts, an exhibition space for sound, live performance, and multi-media, Espro literally captures the spirit of the times.

Architects Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers
Acoustician  M. Peutz
Inauguration October 1978
Dimensions 24m x 15,50m
Seating capacity 250 to 350
Variable Volume
Ceiling height can vary from 1.50m to 10.50m
Variability of the Acoustic Characteristics: reverberation time between 0.4 and 4 seconds

A space in motion

Located 16 meters below the place Stravinsky and isolated in an architectural system of boxes in boxes, this modular space has variable acoustics: the walls and ceilings are mobile. The position of the ceilings, and consequently the volume of the room, varies, as do the materials of the surfaces. The walls and ceiling panels are composed of rotatable prismatic modules with three faces (absorbing, reflecting, and diffusing) called periacts, which can be changed on the spot.

Watch as workers reposition the periacts during the renovation works.

An ambitious multichannel sound spatialization system

Both a research tool and subject, the Espro's audio equipment combines two cutting-edge systems for sound field reproduction: WFS (sound hologram synthesis) and Ambisonics (3D sound immersion). The room features a WFS system consisting of a 264-speaker array evenly distributed around the stage and the audience and a 75-speaker dome for three-dimensional Ambisonic sound diffusion. These 339 loudspeakers are controlled by a set of computers that manage multiple sound source spatialisation in real-time. All scenographic configurations are possible, the stage/room ratio is infinitely adaptable.

This system was installed with the support of the Ile-de-France region (Sesame equipment program), the CNRS, and Sorbonne University.

From June 21 to July 2, 2022, come to the reopening of IRCAM's Espace de projection with the Polytopes installations. A production developed within the framework of the program supporting artistic creation: Mondes nouveaux.

From January 2023, a new season at IRCAM will follow, with a different event every two weeks, alternating between contemporary music, cutting-edge electro music, Baroque music, sound installations, as well as technological workshops, conferences, and international scientific events.

  • Entrance to the Espace de projection without the periactes  © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
    Entrance to the Espace de projection without the periactes © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
  • Entrance to the Espace de projection without the periactes  © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
    Entrance to the Espace de projection without the periactes © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
  • Technical space above the ceiling, Espace de projection  © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
    Technical space above the ceiling, Espace de projection © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
  • Hanging the periactes  © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
    Hanging the periactes © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
  • Hanging the periactes  © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
    Hanging the periactes © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
  • Hanging the periactes  © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa
    Hanging the periactes © Ircam - Centre Pompidou, photo : Philippe Barbosa