La Défense has set a highly progressive agenda for high rise buildings in the capital and there has been a unified approach to the project since its inception. This brave, shared vision has shaped the form of the building, and the ambition to create two 323 metre-high towers, slightly less than the Eiffel Tower - a new arrondissement in the sky. The scheme brings together a hotel, spa, panoramic apartments, offices and serviced apartments, as well as shops and cafes at the base. The generously proportioned apartments are located on the upper floors to take advantage of both the spectacular views and the retail and leisure facilities provided by the hotel below, with penthouses occupying an entire floor plate.
Forming two interlocking triangles on plan, the buildings face one another at ground level. Open and permeable to encourage people to walk through the site, the towers enclose a public piazza which establishes the social focus. As they rise, the towers transform, turning outward to address views across Paris. The glazed façade panels catch the light, the sun animating different facets of the buildings as it changes direction throughout the day. The angle of the panels promotes self-shading and vents can be opened to draw fresh air inside, contributing to an environmental strategy that targets a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating. The diagrid structure is not only highly efficient – doing more with less – but also emphasises the elegant proportions of the towers.
A crystal-shaped podium building contains office space, with two detached satellite buildings housing a gallery and auditorium. Further extending the public realm, the towers are encircled by a new park, with the existing busy road buried beneath a landscaped deck. In the last decade alone, Paris has shown how the containment of traffic can lead to a better quality of urban life. Hermitage Plaza embraces the water, extending the public realm to the river’s edge and greening the banks of the Seine.
The development is very well served by public transport, with a new station, and in easy walking distance from the heart of La Défense. Transportation is part of an integrated approach to the design of Hermitage Plaza that underpins a range of sustainable strategies for the development.
Photo credits: Foster + Partners