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Local Matters / Architecture & Landmarks

Competition to Build the Most Beautiful Building Facade in Paris Returns

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Introduced in 1898 but then abandoned in the 1930s, the Concours des Facades was an annual recognition of the most beautiful building facade in Paris for new constructions: 2018 will be the year it returned. 

Older buildings are often admired for their beauty and attention to detail while modern architecture is criticised for its banality and excessive focus on function over form, true in Paris as anywhere else. A competition called the Concours des Facades – Contest of the Facades – could return to the city soon to bring creativity back to development.

UDI-MoDem, a coalition of independents and centre-right members of the Council, put forward the proposition which has already been approved by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and head of the Council. All that it needs now is to be voted in next week, though the decision is not in any doubt.

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Castel Beranger Entrance © Wikicommons

The competition was launched in 1898 by the city in an attempt to “break with what seemed at the time to be an over-abundance of Haussmannian uniformity“, according to Udi-Modem. Some might see the uniformity as a positive for Paris, but the competition nonetheless helped spur some of the city’s most beautiful fixtures.

One of them is the Castel Beranger in the 16th arrondissement which is famous for its entrance gate, pictured right. Another winner, and a perfect example of the Art Nouveau style that swept through Paris in the early 20th century, is the Immeuble Lavirotte, pictured above.

Eric Aziere, president of the group in the Council and one of the main backers of the re-launching, explained that the competition will help to bring life and character back into urban development.

“For decades now, Parisian urbanism has sadly been permeated by projects whose style, lines and form are indistinguishable from buildings you can find in any metropolis in the world,” Aziere explained, saying he hoped the contest would “stimulate creativity among architects and bring aesthetics to the fore again.”

Any architect worth their salt would jump at the chance to have their work crowned the most beautiful building facade in Paris. Could we soon see a wealth of creative and artistic ventures, like the Ceramic Hotel – winner in 1905, pictured below – throughout the city, but with a more modern twist?

Most-Beautiful-Building-Facade-in-Paris-fyltyrtitle image © Wikicommons

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