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Local Matters / Changing Landscape

Paris’ Arche de la Défense to undergo a major renovation


The Arche de la Défense is a distinctive sight on the Paris skyline and one of the emblems of the city. This enormous glass and marble cube is 25 years old this year and is about to undergo a major face-lift.

The Arche is located in La Défense business district, west of Paris. The south wall is occupied by government offices, while the north wall is owned by insurance company Axa.

At 110 meters high, it’s so big that it could swallow up the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, spire included. The building weighs 300,000 tons and is buttressed by 12 immense supports.

French President François Mitterrand launched a national competition in 1982 for its design, which was won by Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen. The Arche was intended as a modern version of the Arc de Triomphe. It stands at the end of the line of monuments that form the Axe Historique (historic axis) of Paris. They include the Arc de Triomphe, the obelisk on the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. The building was inaugurated on July 14th 1989, to mark the bicentenary of the French Revolution.

The exterior is clad with slabs of Carrara marble, which are worn and need replacing. The elevators also need refurbishing so that the public can once again be admitted to the roof, which affords an exceptional view of the City of Light. In addition, the internal space will be updated to meet modern business needs better. The building’s energy performance will be improved to conform to current norms.

The environment and housing ministries will seek tenders this fall for the work, which is estimated to require two years to complete at a budget of €200 million.


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