Project team:

Client: SAS des Tours du Pont de Sèvres
Architecture: Dominique Perrault Architects;
Execution: Artelia

12. Jul 2017

CityLights – the Pont de Sèvres Towers project in Paris/FR.

Text: Joachim Ritter
Photos: Dominique Perrault Architecture, Badani et Roux-Dorlut, Vincent Fillon

When the powers that be decide to redesign an outdated office block that – even at a considerable distance – is a highly visible part of the urban backdrop, then the idea should also be to render it a striking feature of the cityscape. Better still, it should become a true beacon of the part of the city it is located in. In Paris this was sorely needed.

Being commissioned to renovate or redesign a facade is not high on a designer’s list of “wish-I-could-do’s”. The challenges – or hurdles – involved in turning an aging building into something new and attractive are substantial, especially when the facade is old, but not old enough to warrant being revered as being of historic interest and value. The Pont de Sèvres Towers, which were renamed CityLights subsequent to complete revitalisation and restructuring, were built in 1975 by architects Badani and Roux-Dorlut. Bearing witness to the architectural modernity of the era, they stood high and dense in the midst of a barren urban territory. The restructuring turned this sense of “isolation” into an asset, on a socioeconomic as well as an urban level.

The project not only comprises a renovation and re-structuring of the original complex, but in addition an unveiling of the towers’ self-evident resources. The site is now very well connected to the public transport system. There is a métro stop right outside the building, and with the stations in the Greater Paris network now all connected to the Pont de Sèvres Towers, CityLights has become part of the heart of the city. The towers are therefore an integral part of the project to expand the French capital to create “Grand Paris”. In addition to their major territorial impact, these supplementary elements have added to the morphology and mutation of the buildings.

An open, sheltered campus
While the towers were originally cut off from their environment, they are now entirely and organically linked to it through a grid of pedestrian routes connecting them to the new Trapèze district. The wasteland where the former Renault factories once stood has now been replaced by office and residential buildings, both new and refurbished. The designers conceived a range of spaces in order to open the project to the outside: a large plaza in front of the towers, walkways to all sides, and gardens. The project is now physically anchored within the city. The 53,000 square feet space created at the ground level connects the towers to their environment and embeds them firmly into the urban space. The welcoming entrance areas, walkways and communal spaces support a new type of work environment, suitable for today’s world.

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 105 as well as in our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store).


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