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A bridge building in the heart of Paris

A bridge building in the heart of Paris

Designed by the Snøhetta agency, the new 23,000 m2 headquarters of the Le Monde Group brings together 1,600 employees under one roof in a building located at 67-69, avenue Pierre-Mendès-France, in the 13th arrondissement. With its publicly accessible forecourt, this bridge building with its spectacular façade marks the entrance to Paris Rive Gauche, a district in full reinvention.

The building’s façade is composed of more than 20,000 pixelated glass elements, arranged according to a pre-established pattern, with 772 different possible configurations. These glass surfaces play on transparency effects, which vary with the day and the seasons. Each glass element represents a distinct pixel, classified on a scale of opacity ranging from transparent to totally opaque, located in such a way as to favor the quality of use, by allowing the views of Paris to be framed and ensuring maximum diffusion of daylight. The assembly of these elements creates a complex pattern, referring to the printed letters of newspapers and magazines. It forms a pattern similar to the appearance of newspaper text, developing over the 10,000 m2 of the storefront. With 80 meters of frontage on Avenue Pierre-Mendès-France, the building responds to the conditions and challenges of the site, acquired by Le Monde Group in 2014: it is located just above the railroad tracks and platforms of the Austerlitz station and, as such, has no technical basement. The first challenge was therefore to build a building in which the entire technical system would be intelligently integrated into the superstructure. The second was that the site could only support a maximum weight, and only at its two ends, on foundations that were already completed, making it impossible to build the central slab. The original plan was to build two separate entities on the two buildable parts. Snøhetta’s proposal is based on the idea of merging them by connecting them with a kind of bridge. In this way, the building becomes a technical feat, with a very complex load-bearing structure, made of steel, whose total weight exceeds that of the Eiffel Tower. The construction of a unitary building, dealing with these constraints, appeared necessary to meet the desire to design a new headquarters uniting the various titles of the Group.

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