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Grande Arche seen from the pedestrian plaza at La Défense

La Grande Arche de la Défense (also La Grande Arche de la Fraternité) is a monument and building in the business district of La Défense to the west of Paris, France. It is usually known as the Arche de la Défense or simply as La Grande Arche.

Design and construction

A great national design competition was launched in 1982 as the initiative of French president François Mitterrand. Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen (1929–1987) and Danish engineer Erik Reitzel designed the winning entry to be a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe: a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than military victories. The construction of the monument began in 1985. Spreckelsen resigned on July 1986 and ratified the transfer of all his architectural responsibilities to his associate, French architect Paul Andreu. Reitzel continued his work until the monument was completed in 1989.

At night

The Arche is almost a perfect cube (width: 108m, height: 110m, depth: 112m); it has been suggested that the structure looks like a four-dimensional hypercube (a tesseract) projected onto the three-dimensional world. It has a prestressed concrete frame covered with glass and Carrara marble from Italy and was built by the French civil engineering company Bouygues.

The Grande Arche seen from the Arc de Triomphe on the Axe historique

La Grande Arche was inaugurated in July 1989, with grand military parades that marked the bicentennial of the French revolution. It completed the line of monuments that forms the Axe historique running through Paris. The Arche is turned at an angle of 6.33° on this axis. The most important reason for this turn was technical: With a métro station, an RER station, and a motorway all situated directly underneath the Arche, the angle was the only way to accommodate the structure's giant foundations. From an architectural point of view, the turn emphasises the depth of the monument, and is similar to the turn of Louvre at the other end of the Axe historique.

View of the Arc De Triomphe from the Grande Arche

In addition, the Arche is placed so that it forms a secondary axe (axis) with the two highest buildings in Paris, the Tour Eiffel and the Tour Montparnasse.

The two sides of the Arche house government offices. The roof section, exploited by Stephane Cherki, is an exhibition centre. The vertical structure visible in the photograph is the lift scaffolding. Views of Paris are to be had from the lifts taking visitors to the roof.

See also

  • List of tallest buildings and structures in the Paris region
  • François Chaslin et Virginie Picon-Lefebvre, La Grande Arche de La Défense Electa-Moniteur, 1989
  • Erik Reitzel Le Cube ouvert. Structures and foundations International conference on tall buildings. Singapore, 1984. ISBN : 9971-84-042-1
  • Erik Reitzel Les forces dont resultent quelques monuments Parisiens de la Fin du XXe siècle LE POUVOIR ET LA VILLE À L’ÉPOQUE MODERNE ET CONTEMPORAINE, Sorbonne 2001. ISBN : 2-7475-2610-0

External links

Coordinates: 48°53′34″N 2°14′09″E / 48.89278°N 2.23583°E / 48.89278; 2.23583

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