Paris Embraces New Height Regulations With 12 Skyscrapers

Paris Eiffel Tower

An overturn of a ban on buildings over seven storeys high in Paris now has the city planning for 12 new skyscrapers in Batignolles, an urban development zone just outside the CBD.

Paris has traditionally been better known for romantic architecture than for tall skyscrapers, but that is set to change as the government supports a move to a more denser and modern city.

The construction of the controversial 210-metre Tour Montparnasse in 1973 drew an end to skyscraper construction, with the government limiting heights throughout most of Paris.

For those fearing the visual damage of modern buildings in such a historical city, Paris city hall has assured that the aim is not to make the city “Dubai.”

The recent change will allow buildings up to 180 metres, still considerably less than the Eiffel Tower’s 324-metre height.

“Paris is competing hard with other cities like London as an international capital,” said Paris district mayor Jerome Coumet.

“Paris too must be able to offer modern office space.

Coumet, who calls Paris a “museum city,” is excited by the prospect of vertical building. French stararchitect Jean Nouvel and renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano will be involved in some of the 12 skyscraper projects in the pipeline.

Piano is working with Bouygues Construction to build the future Paris Law Courts in Batignolles, where a huge site of railway wasteland has been removed to support new construction and reinvigorate the area. The law courts will be housed within a 160-metre skyscraper made of four steel and glass sections placed atop one another.

Coumet also referred to the aesthetic benefits of building vertically for both the creative industry and tourism in the city.

Paris Eiffel Tower

The controversial 210 metre tall Tour Montparnasse. Image: Only Apartments

“I’m convinced that just as people go to visit the new parts of London, people will come to see extraordinary new architecture in Paris,” he said.

“French architects work all over the world. They should also be able to express themselves in Paris.”

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, welcoming 15.7 million tourists in 2012.

The new plan has caused some controversy. Olivier de Monicault, president of anti-skyscraper pressure group SOS Paris, told Parisian journalist John Laurenson that tall buildings are “rupture architecture.”

“Modern architects, he says, make no attempt to fit in with the architecture of the cities they build in. Usually the architect makes a project, then he tries to sell it in any place in the world,’ he says,” Laurenson said of Monicault’s views.

Other critis have referred to the ever-changing work environment where more and more employees will work remotely and, when meeting in person, will choose beautiful spaces over steel skyscrapers.

Today, Tour Montparnasse stands as Paris’ second-tallest skyscraper and was only recently surpassed by Tour First, a building that which was originally 159 metres in height but was then renovated and brought to 225 metres in a 2011 renovation.

Most of Paris’ skyscrapers, including Tour First, are housed in the city’s Lá Defense district.

Building height regulations and the 12 planned skyscrapers are expected to drive debate in next year’s Paris municipal elections.

By Angela Fedele
Top Image: NY Habitat
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