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BETC Keep Magasins Généraux Graffiti Heritage Alive



Agency announces move to historic Parisian building with cutting-edge 'digital street art' project

BETC Keep Magasins Généraux Graffiti Heritage Alive

DIGITAL STREET ART. An iconic edifice of industrial Paris, the 'Magasins Généraux', is an immense derelict building that used to house the general and customs warehouses of Pantin, on the banks of the Ourcq Canal just north east of the city. It was abandoned in 2004 and has since become a playground for graffiti artists from around the world.

A veritable temple to graffiti, it is now preparing to undergo a fresh transformation and will from 2016 accommodate the headquarters of international advertising agency BETC.

Because the history of this building, its architecture and the thousands of graffiti that form its second skin incarnate the very identity of the Magasins Généraux, it would have been unthinkable to begin renovating the site before preserving as much as possible of its artworks.

On the eve of the building’s reconstruction work, BETC is launching an innovative, daring and perhaps slightly crazy project, with the goal of trying to preserve this unique cultural heritage and share it with the public: Graffiti Général.


BETC Founder and Global Creative Director, Rémi Babinet, comments on the move: "When a temple to graffiti art is transformed into an advertising agency, the question of the transmission of heritage is inevitably raised.

"By choosing to install our agency in the Magasins Généraux at Pantin, we were conscious of our duty to preserve as much as possible, these thousands of artworks. However, the specific nature of this art form and the way it is realised presented us with a dilemma.

"The very essence of graffiti is that it is continually overpainted by new works. Preserving the graffs as they are, freezing them in time at an arbitrary date in the life of the building, did not really make sense. At the same time, renovating the building by destroying the thousands of graffiti that have given it the unique identity it has today was unthinkable.

"Recently, others have also taken a stand on the issue of graffiti. In Paris, the Tour 13 project mobilised the public around an immense ephemeral art gallery. In New York, 5Pointz, the famous vacant lot in Queens that had become one of the main focal points of graff culture, was wiped out in a single night, whitewashed to oblivion to make way for an ambitious property development scheme.

"The Graffiti Général initiative provides a solution to this contradictory problem through an initiative that is consistent with the very spirit of graffiti art: preserving the current state and atmosphere of the building and its works on the eve of the reconstruction while still allowing it to continue to live and evolve through an unprecedented virtual experience."

Cutting-edge digital technology at the service of urban art

Conceived by BETC Digital and accessible to all via a simple web browser, Graffiti Général offers a real-time 3D tour of the building and its many artistic works.

This is a true voyage of discovery throughout the 20,000 m2 of the Magasins Généraux, the largest surface area ever modelled by WebGL at the cutting edge of digital technology.

Fluid to use, with an exceptional rendition of form and colour, reconstitution of the sound environment and the special atmosphere of this singular site, Graffiti Général offers a breath- taking 3D sensory experience. Users can stroll through the building at their leisure, exploring its corridors and its several floors.

Virtual visitors can also discover around forty graffs in the greatest detail, with insights into their creation in the words of the artists.

In addition, to enhance this unique artistic adventure, anyone, whether renowned artists or simple amateurs, can add their graffiti to the building online, thanks to a specially designed module, so that the living history of the building can continue to evolve.


AGENCY MANAGEMENT: Rémi Babinet, Stéphane Xiberras, Eugénie Lefebvre, Miranda Salt, Ivan Beczkowski, Xavier Blairon, Caroline-Melody Meyer, Charlotte de Bardies
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Rémi Babinet, Stéphane Xiberras
ART DIRECTORS: Julien Derreveaux, Loris Cormoreche, Simon Franckard
COPYWRITER: Romain Pergeaux
CONTENT: Karim Boukercha
DEVELOPMENT: Thibault Dargeou, Maxime Montegnies, Simon Doury
3D MODELING: Maxime Montegnies, Julien Chiari, Circus

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BETC Paris, Tue, 17 Dec 2013 12:11:35 GMT