Brief 

When Snøhetta was commissioned to design a new headquarters for Le Monde Group on a site that couldn’t support a heavy structure at its center due to underground rail lines, the firm responded with a striking building that’s defined by a large arch.

 

Insight

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention and in Snøhetta’s case this indeed proved to be true. Commissioned to design a new headquarters for French media giant Le Monde Group on a site that couldn’t support a heavy structure at its center due to underground rail lines, the firm created a striking building that’s defined by a large arch.

The building was designed in collaboration with local firm SRA, with Archimage handling interior design, and is located in central Paris. It sports an eye-catching pixelated facade comprising over 20,000 pieces of glass arranged in a series of 772 patterns, the idea being that its appearance shifts with the changing weather and light. Additionally, the patterned facade is meant to reference the printed letters of newspapers and magazines.

The initial brief for the project called for not one but two buildings situated near each other, with an area in between them left unbuilt due to the underground rail lines. However, the firm decided it would make for a more useful headquarters to have one unified building.

“The first challenge, therefore, was to construct a building where the entire technical system of the building would be cleverly incorporated into the structure of the building itself,” explains the firm. “The second challenge was that the site could only carry a specific amount of weight, and only on the two extremities of the site. As the middle section was not planned to hold the weight of a building, the client’s initial brief was to create two buildings on the parts of the site that were buildable.”

 

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