The chicken or the egg ?

30.01.2015  Projets / R&D

The first towers where means of observation and defense. They became coveted symbols of power and prowess. Skyscraper defined corporations, cities and civilizations.   They defined property values and created new urban economies. Beyond the vertical glory was the need for density. Towers are henceforth part of our enduring urban landscape. Was the first Otis elevator invented out of need or a pure desire to rise ever higher?

When we were asked in January 2007 to think about the design of the D2 tower, we experienced two feelings that might at first appear contradictory: necessity and desire. A tower is the culmination of technical challenges that are spurred onward by the will to invent. The tower is to the Architect what a space mission is to the rocket engineer: a complex challenge of innovation that requires a multi-talented team. In our case, there was scarcely a site to build on. Driving around the circular ring road of La Défense one was liable to miss the promised parcel. It was difficult to imagine how a 54 000 m2 tower could sit on a plot of land roughly 3 000 m2.And to make it more difficult – the district authorities demanded that the D2’s base be as transparent and permeable as possible. Further, we were required to visually and physically mend the historical breach between the higher pedestrian esplanade and the busy ring road that disconnected La Défense from its neighboring communities. This constraint implied a ground floor as free and open as possible – allowing easy pedestrian movement to and from the esplanade. However, towers require a certain number of facilities within their bases, including; lobbies, security post, stairs, elevators, etc.

The puzzle was solved by two innovative ideas. The first was the use of “twin” lifts (two lifts that share a single shaft resulting in a smaller, more slender core). This is made possible by a fantastic technology of programmed destinations, which shortens waiting times. The second idea was to push the structure of the building to the exterior. This exoskeleton had the advantage of reducing the size of the structure and limiting the number of internal columns. With compact vertical cores and a delicate external structure – the pedestrian is invited to stroll through the building beneath a monumental arcade.

Having met the challenges of the ground level, the team developed 36 high-quality floors above the transparent base making it a tower worthy of its stature. The various landings took advantage of the aforementioned innovations permitting sweeping open spaces – both flexible and confortable.

Finally – we could not ignore the great and historical function of all towers in general – that is the ability to survey the scene below and beyond from it’s summit. This unique opportunity reserved for towers inspired the D2’s “Garden in the Clouds”, an unexpected landscape 171m above the city. It is coiffed by the structure’s exoskeleton that forms the emblematic crowing dome of the tower and makes it the skyscraper to remember in Paris.

Tom Sheehan, Architect

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Inauguration de la Tour D2 !

28.01.2015  Projets


Ce mardi 27 Janvier 2015 signait l’inauguration de la Tour D2 à la Défense,
réalisée par Tom Sheehan & Antony Béchu.

Son architecture lui attribue une identité visuelle iconique mémorable. A sa base, la Tour vivra le jour et la nuit avec ses halls sur 2 niveaux, une brasserie, des restaurants et salles de fitness.

Le sommet abrite le Jardin des nuages, 2 niveaux de direction avec des espaces Club, un putting green de 50m², une promenade « zen » au milieu des arbres ainsi qu’un point de vue exceptionnel sur la capitale.

« Cornichon, concombre ou cucurbitacées, cactus ou peut-être coléoptère, peu importe le surnom qu’on lui donne, la silhouette de la Luciole de la Défense, j’espère, ne vous laissera pas indiffèrent.  » Tom Sheehan


Photographie : Mathieu Ducros

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