Wednesday, May 20, 2009


La Défense is emblematic of the unreserved openness of the French towards modernity, as well as their current perplexity towards its result.
The La Tour Phare, or the lighthouse tower, competition is representative of this: as the name suggests its function is to act as an icon, yet it will be launched from a base which is almost nonexistent. Another challenge is the division of the site into two sections allowing the passage of the pedestrian walkway Passerelle de l’Arche.

Each of these conditions influenced our design, and results in three different operations:
1. Creation of a base.
2. Reinstallation of rationality.
3. Projecting light outwards towards the city.

1. At the base, the tower emerges from an irregular site defined by a neighboring motorway and a rail link. To minimize the footprint we suspend the façade and the first floors where the passageway pierces through the hall of the building to create an intense urban experience. Instead of charging the ground of La Defense with yet another intention, we reduced the footprint to the absolute essential from which the slab emerges offering perspective sights.

2. The main rectangular volume of the building is devoted to office floors offering maximum efficiency and flexibility: from traditional office configurations to open spaces for contemporary work conditions.

3. One of the weaknesses of the skyscraper is the fact that it hides its most precious organs. At the level of the sky-lobby, we propose to radicalize the status of the skyscraper into a body with organs: four satellites hover around the main volume containing the most public functions of the building making them autonomous. In the heart of the tower this gesture liberates space for a forum with surprising views over Paris. Seen from the French Capital, the profile of the tower will never be seen as just another rational and sober tower.

These three measures allow us to respond to each of the specific questions in this competition without resigning to the irresistible logic of the exceptional, the master piece, the land mark, the contemporary transformations that could not incarnate due to the site, the work, the place.

La Tour Phare

Competition November 2006

Client: Unibail

Location:Paris, France

Site:La Défense

Program:165.000 M2; Height 300m
Offices, Sky Lobby, Gym, Restaurant, Retail, Parking
Source: Office for Metropolitan Architects
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