Morphosis Phare Tower in Paris gets green light

“There’s a fluidity, a sensuousness, a softness to the form as it reaches to the sky. Moving around the tower, it appears to shift continually, distinct from different vantage points – not a single image, but a dynamic structure that responds to its site, environment, and performance requirements.”
Thom Mayne

Image courtesy Morphosis

The Phare Tower is part of the redevelopment for the La Défense business district on the outskirts of Paris.
Informed by a commitment to sustainability and urban connectivity, the Phare Tower will distinguish itself as a beacon of optimism and progress.

Program, design and engineering, are integrated in an innovative vision for a 21st century tower, which emerges organically from its complex site condition to become, by virtue of its fluid and sensuous form, a landmark in the regional skyline.

Image courtesy Morphosis

The scheme synthesizes La Défense’s disparate programmatic, physical and infrastructural elements through a series of sensitively scaled spaces to bring coherency, vibrancy and a sense of place to the area.
Rather than producing an isolated and autonomous building, we sought to develop a hybrid structure where circulation would move fluidly from the below grade transit hub, through the CNIT, and into public spaces that transform from horizontal to vertical – offering a richness of cultural and commercial experiences along the way. A carefully scaled “connector” building physically and programmatically links the CNIT to the Phare Tower.

Glass enclosed exterior escalators transport people from the CNIT connector up to the Tower’s 60-meter high lobby, which functions as a grand public plaza in the air.
In place of an autonomous office building, this hybridized
tower will engage in and contribute to the life of the city.

Image courtesy Morphosis

The scheme transforms the austere ground floor plaza level into a vibrant public space. Typical urban social spaces, gardens, cafes, and shops, as well as an observation deck and sky restaurant are distributed vertically throughout the tower and are accessible to the public.
Skip-stop (express) elevators offer continual opportunities for workers to encounter one another throughout their workday, functioning in many ways like vertical piazzas.

Image courtesy Morphosis

Image courtesy Morphosis

Image courtesy Morphosis

In the spirit of Gustav Eiffel’s innovations in engineering and construction, the Phare Tower will be a powerful symbol of sustainable, performance-driven design. Both the form and the orientation of the building respond to the path of the sun; the south facade’s curvilinear double skin minimizes heat gain and glare, while the flat, clear-glazed north façade maximizes interior exposures to year-round natural daylight. A double skin is at work at all times to maximize energy efficiency. The resultant benefit of increased daylight and natural ventilation creates a workspace of exceptional quality and comfort for its users.
A visually distinctive wind farm crowns the tower and provides clean, alternative energy to power the fans that activate the building’s natural ventilation system. This fully self-sufficient system will cool the building for half of the year without using any outside energy sources or any supplemental heating or cooling. A metaphorical garden in the sky, this crown of wind turbines harvests energy and provides a powerful symbol of committed environmental stewardship.

“For this highly symbolic project, we were determined to give an example of groundbreaking architecture and a model of sustainable development by utilizing cutting-edge research in the new technologies.”
Guillaume Poitrinal
Chairman and CEO of Unibail

Rendering courtesy Unibail-Morphosis
Site Plan

Rendering courtesy Unibail-Morphosis
Floor Plan

Rendering courtesy Unibail-Morphosis
Lobby Level Plan

Drawing courtesy MorphosisRendering courtesy Unibail-Morphosis
Concept Diagram Movement

Morphosis won the international competition in November 2006

Height: 300 meters
Total area: 175,000 square meters
Estimated completion: 2012

Client: Unibail
With the Public Body for the Development of La Défense (EPAD)
Architect: Morphosis
Competition Project Team:
Design Director: Thom Mayne
Principal/Project Manager: Silvia Kuhle
Project Designers:
Chandler Ahrens
Irena Bedenikovic
Project Team:
Anne Marie Burke
John Carpenter
Natalia Traverso Caruana, Guiomar
Contreras, Novella D’Amico
Leonore Daum
Marty Doscher
Patrick Dunn-Baker,
Mauricio Gomez
Joseph Justus
Michelle Lee
Michael Sargent
Aleksander Tamm-Seitz
Local Consulting Architect: Arte Charpentier Architectes
Principal: Jean-Marie Charpentier
Design Director: Andrew Hobson
Associate: Antonio Frausto
Structure and Facade Design: RFR Ingénieurs
Matt King
Grace Tan
MEP and Sustainable Design:
IBE Consulting Engineers and OCI
IBE Consulting Engineers: Peter Simmonds
OCI: Jacques de Pastre
Cost Consulting: Davis Langdon
Nick Butcher
Rick J. Lloyd
Maja Zeremski
Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen & Associates
Rick Sayah

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