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Grande Arche (La)

Year of construction: 1989
Architects: Johan-Otto Von Spreckelsen and Paul Andreu. Renovation operation in 2017 by Valode & Pistre
Surface area: 80,000 sq.m.
Height: 110 m. 35 floors

Address: 1, Parvis de La Défense - 92800 Puteaux
Nearest parking: Regional Shopping Centre
Nearest metro station: La Défense Grande Arche

The inauguration of the Ark in 1989, the bicentenary year of the French Revolution, partially ended consultations on the completion of the perspective between the Louvre and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, of which La Défense is the focal point. It was in this context that Johan Otto von Spreckelsen won the competition for La Tête Défense in 1983. His project of an "open cube" as a "window on the world", inspired by the church of Esberg which he created in 1969, won all the votes.

The simplicity of the Grande Arche was then equalled only by the complexity of its structure made of prestressed beams. The building is therefore one of the most difficult sites between the constraints of the basement and the dimensions of the monument - a cube of 100 m on each side - not to mention its glass cladding and reinforced concrete structure. Spreckelsen resigned from his position in 1986, even before the building was delivered. The Grande Arche was completed in 1989 under the responsibility of Paul Andreu. At that time, the monument was paradoxically discreet. Not presented from the front, it is as visible as it is legible. A functional work, the Grande Arche became a public and private office building.

The renovation of the Grande Arche in 2017 includes:

  • The refurbishment and modernisation of the work spaces in the south wall (currently occupied by the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Equality and Rural Affairs).
  • Renovation of the facades and panoramic lifts allowing the reopening of the 35th floor to the public
  • The outside part at the top of the Arch (belvedere). On this occasion a walk "Between heaven and earth" was created at this same level and accessible to the public.

The enhancement of the roof included :

  • Panoramic elevators
  • An art gallery - the observatory of the contemporary world
  • A belvedere - hanging garden
  • The promenade bridge
  • The central squares (restaurants ...)

The interior renovation includes amphitheatres, the reorganization of the work platforms, the rearrangement of the car parks...

The exterior renovation includes the replacement of interior openings on the façade, the replacement of marble...

A word about architects

Born in Viborg, Denmark, Johan Otto von Spreckelsen (1929-1987) founded his agency in 1958. Internationally renowned, he is especially appreciated in his own country for the four places of worship he built between 1969 and 1982. In fact, Esbjerg's Catholic Gospel affects the shape that announces the silhouette of the Grande Arche, a project that made him famous in France. However, the architect was forced to resign in July 1986 - he died a year later - giving way to Paul Andreu, himself assisted by François Deslaugiers and Peter Rice.