Dominique Perrault Architecture shared with us their winning proposal in the international architecture competition launched by General Electric Capital Real Estate for the requalification of the Pont de Sèvres Towers. Their design response, which could at first appear minimalist, proposes a luminous landmark for one of the most ambitious programs in the service sector of the Western Paris area. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Citylights expresses contemporary urban signatures, but also unites with the surrounding metropolis which is gradually building up. Through a non-historicist practice of architecture, Dominique Perrault preserves and completes the existing devices to establish Citylights in the geographic reality of a transforming territory. He keeps a certain attachment to the strong geometry of the towers, to the variable heights and layout of the floors. This geometric severity contributes paradoxically to the modernity of the architecture, which today tends to favor the biomorphic all too often.
The complex comprises three clusters of three hexagonal towers at varying heights, creating the effect of an assembly of organ flues. Faded and drab, the original aging arrays contrast with the blazing outfits of the new constructions around the district of the Pont de Sèvres. After taking off the worn dress of the towers, Perrault, in his capacity as architect/fashion designer, wrapped them in smooth finery contrasting with the roughness of the outlines of yesteryear. The huge transparent glass elements allow one to see a second skin alternating between transparency and silver shades thanks to a partial wall covered with polished aluminium and silver metal blinds. At the piers, the exterior glass is screen-printed with horizontal stripes, recalling the rhythm of the blinds.
The new façade spreads out to a third of each tower’s height like a bracelet whose pearls are numerous oblique façade elements, moving away and coming closer successively from/to the piers around which they are hung. This finery brings life to each, materializing and energizing the façades and establishing height benchmark. Those standards give demonstrate a scale marker for the dimensions of the highest buildings of the district. These outside skin is made of folds and double folds contrasts with the immateriality of the original façade system by multiplying the reflections on all perspectives.
Surrounding spotlights serve as a beacon to Paris and its outskirts, introducing the new limits of the city and inviting the Seine River and its banks, the hillsides of Sèvres, Meudon and Suresnes and their terraced constructions to take part in the inexhaustible display of the city. From an architectural and urban standpoint, the project completes the South-West City 2 Tower (formerly called Chenonceaux) with a new node rising to 10 levels. The expansion repeats, through a slightly updated structural system, the hexagonal shape but also the dimension of the ‘petals’ in order to structure the parcel, by clearly drawing attention to the entrance point. This enlargement of the towers’ draw the outlines of a large forecourt whose dimensions refer tothe public spaces, giving to the place some institutional style while highlighting the urban anchorage of Citylights. The façade’s treatment of homogeneity brings the expansion of a perfect integration to the project. Perrault breaks the slab on which the towers are set up which leads the Pont de Sèvres District out of the city.
The lobby, with its lofty canopy made of polished stainless steel and leaning mirrors and with its inside levels, suggests the opulence of reception spaces, and allows a glimpse of the organization at the common base, linking up the 3 towers on 3 levels and offering a very large space for services, places for meetings and exchanges. This atypical organization with a forum on several levels overhung by almost 70,000 m² of offices functions as a vertical campus sheltering in the same place some restaurants and cafeterias, a fitness club, a travellers lobby, a concierge service, an intercompany nursery, and a conference centre. The warm and soft atmosphere of the inside spaces, designed by Didier Gomez, creates a contrast with the metal shades of the façade.