The Lavoir Numérique in Gentilly is an arts centre focusing on image and sound-based art that is part of the Etablissement Public Territorial Grand-Orly Seine Bièvre.


The Lavoir Numérique in Gentilly is an arts centre focusing on image and sound-based art that is part of the Etablissement Public Territorial Grand-Orly Seine Bièvre.

At the start of the 2000s, Gentilly municipal council and the town’s inhabitants embarked on a project to renovate the former public baths, which had opened in 1924 and closed at the end of the 1950s. The decision was made to preserve the archetypal building, a symbol of local social history and the idea of implanting a cultural project soon prevailed.


Completely transformed by the architects from Arteo, Gentilly’s  “Lavoir-Bains-douches municipal” was reborn in 2020 in a completely new form as the Lavoir Numérique.

A creative hub for audio-visual artists

A new visitor entrance was opened at 4 rue de Freiberg, above which the facade lit by LEDs underlines the location’s new identity: the Lavoir Numérique, an arts centre focusing on still and moving images and digital sounds. Far from solely being given over to digital art forms, the visual arts or sound-based art, the Lavoir Numérique is resolutely turned towards present-day audio-visual practices.

Both a venue and a place of learning

The architectural brief for this 1,000 m2 space was devised with these two functions in mind: the Lavoir Numérique includes a large exhibition space and a modular projection room in the basement, as well as two floors that are home to workshops and studios.


The events programme is organised into quarterly “sequences”, which address a broad spectrum of digital practices considered from an audio-visual point of view. Each theme-based sequence is composed of an exhibition, a programme of films and a series of public debates, complemented by concerts, shows and performances.

A place of exploration and understanding

The quarterly sequences into which the events programme is divided address both aesthetic and technical subjects, not forgetting the social, economic and ethical questions present in the world of audio-visual arts today, a world that is in a state of constant renewal as a result of current practices and the digital economy.


A mix of different cultures

An artistic practice is so much more than using different tools, nor does it simply consist of a series of technical and/or creative actions. By reshuffling the different professions in the audio-visual sector, the digital revolution has also given rise to new responsibilities: content creators are now free to choose to distribute their work themselves.

The digital transformation has not only left the traditional divisions between different sectors (photography, television, radio, cinema) in tatters, it has also done away with the limits specific to each medium. Cameras are now designed to film videos as well as taking photos and smartphones combine every possible function in terms of image and sound. In addition, a DIY approach or being self-taught is no longer something to be ashamed of and homemade solutions and an economy of means are shown with pride.

When YouTube became the 2nd largest search engine after Google in 2014, audio-visual media became a predominant means of acquiring knowledge.

This tirelessly innovative field imposes its own cultures of distribution, sharing and appropriation, in other words it is a mix of different cultures.

Digital arts: teaching the best practices

This involves showing both the potential and the limits of tools and pointing out the amazing resources that exist, without forgetting the possible pitfalls. It involves talking about inspiration, know-how and past and future references, as well as keeping environmental aspects, the question of personal data, intellectual property and social responsibility in mind. And last but not least, it is an exploration of previously unexplored technical paths and networks for sharing and creating.

At the Lavoir Numérique, visitors are invited to get their hands dirty and become more aware, whereas practitioners are encouraged to adopt the role of a critical observer. The Lavoir Numérique’s cultural commitment is therefore a responsible one that encourages everyone to keep their eyes and ears wide open.

Cultural initiatives

Truly a place to think and create and open to one and all, whether amateurs, professionals, beginners or experts, the Lavoir Numérique also develops an important programme of cultural initiatives, which are implemented by its outreach team and outside contributors.

To elaborate one’s own culture of images and sounds also means that questions of production need to be addressed and both distribution and the final audience be taken into account. By fostering discovery and aiding understanding, we favour autonomy: the public takes on an active role, which may well lead to new creative practices.

Guided tours, workshops, courses, discussions, projections accompanied by a commentary and group listening sessions - always in direct relation to the arts programme - are just some of the formats that allow an exploration of both image and sound-based art forms.


The Lavoir Numérique has put into place an artist-in-residence programme whose first edition was in spring 2021. As part of this programme, three creatives from different disciplines – still images, moving images and sound – are provided with working conditions (workspaces and resources) conducive to emulation. They create one or several works, putting their chosen public at the heart of their approach.


Still images

The Lavoir Numérique and the Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau are two of the Etablissement Public Territorial Grand-Orly Seine Bièvre’s cultural institutions and are both managed by the same team. Just 300 metres from the Lavoir Numérique, the Maison Doisneau presents an overview of 20th century and contemporary humanist photography.

The two organisations are complementary and work towards similar ends, however there are lines of demarcation. In fact, the relationship between the Maison Doisneau and the Lavoir Numérique is grounded in a dialogue that allows them to travel between the fields of 20th century photography and 21st century image making, a vast area of anthropological study that observes the current audio-visual landscape, whilst exploring its origins and foretelling what it will become.

Moving images

Moving images – fictions, documentaries and animations – are an essential part of the Lavoir Numérique. The programme devised by the director of the La Tournelle cinema in L’Haÿ-les-Roses, which is also a Grand-Orly Seine Bièvre amenity, is part of each quarterly sequence. It showcases a selection of both mainstream and experimental films, including animations and documentaries. Each showing is organised as a complete event in its own right with a guest, a debate or a performance.


The director of Gentilly Conservatory is responsible for sound at the Lavoir Numérique, an inclusive field of activity that covers music, sound design and engineering, as well as any form of hybrid creation combining image and audio.

These explorations are devised in close collaboration with Gentilly Conservatory (in particular the electro-acoustic department) and also from time to time with the relevant departments (theatre, musical instruments, music training etc) of the other conservatories in the Grand-Orly Seine Bièvre area.



The Gentilly cultural hub

The Lavoir Numérique enriches the offer of the Gentilly cultural hub, a dense network of cultural establishments within the municipality that include the Department of Cultural Affairs, a multimedia library, the conservatory and the Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau (as far as public facilities are concerned), in addition to Gentil’jardin, the Générateur and Plateau 3, which are run by not-for-profit organisations.

The Grand-Orly Seine Bièvre area and beyond

The Lavoir Numérique is a meeting point between the different cultural establishments of the Grand-Orly Seine Bièvre area and a place where, in addition to its constant collaboration with the Maison Doisneau, Gentilly Conservatory and La Tournelle cinema in L’Haÿ-les-Roses, other joint projects can become a reality.

Finally, the vocation of the Lavoir Numérique is to work with other cultural institutions within the Île-de-France region, nationally and internationally.


Action financée par la Région Ile-de-France




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