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Local Matters / Architecture & Landmarks

First new Skyscrapers in Paris Being Built Since 1973

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When the Tour Montparnasse was completed in 1973 its incongruous black facade and size led to Parisians saying “Never Again” to skyscrapers in Paris. It has taken forty years, but two are finally being built within the city limits: presenting the Tours Duo. 

To this day, the Tour Montparnasse strikes a lonely figure in the 15th arrondissement, the only skyscraper for miles. Parisians often quip it boasts the most beautiful view of Paris: the only one where it cannot be seen. Since the furore around its lack of harmony with its surroundings, the only skyscrapers built in Ile-de-France have been at La Defense. Maybe a blessing in disguise, as the ban has led to the business district becoming the biggest of its kind in Europe.

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Montparnasse Tower © Wikicommons

That era is over. In Autumn this year, work will start on the Tours Duo, two skyscrapers on the edge of Paris, in the quartier de la gare area of the 13th arrondissement (see the map below). Measuring 122m and 180m, the 90,000 m2 of office space they will boast were recently snapped up by the commercial bank Naxitis. Some 6,000 of its 10,000-strong workforce in France will move into the towers, the prestige of inhabiting Paris’ first modern skyscraper being too much to pass up for the bank.

A 2020 completion date has been announced on the page of the primary investment fund behind the development. Ivanhoe Cambridge is a subsidiary of the Caisse des Depots of Quebec. They are keeping tight-lipped about the total cost but LesEchos believes it to be around 500 million euros.

The double tower was designed by Jean Nouvel. Both towers will incline, making a ‘V’ shape when seen from afar. The design also allows for a wealth of terrace garden space on the smaller of the two buildings, in keeping with the general ‘green’ theme of modern city planning. And of course, the ground floors will feature plenty of commercial and public space.

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location of the Tours Duo © Wikicommons

Its permit is all but secured, but that’s not to say it isn’t facing some resistance. Monts 14, a pressure group pushing for the protection of the Paris skyline, has submitted a case against its building permit, arguing that APUR has underestimated the size and impact the construction will have on surrounding views. The case will be heard on April 14 but it is unlikely to be successful. If Paris wants to compete globally in the 21st century – especially with the opportunities Brexit could offer for pinching business – it will have to be more ambitious in its construction efforts, and the Tours Duo project is a step in the right direction.

image © l’Autre Image

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