La Grande Arche De La Defense

(Paris. France) 1982-89

In 1982. 400 entries from more than 40 countries were submitted to the competition (or an international communications centre in La Défense. the financial district of Paris located on the north west edge of the city. After the final choice had been made by President Frangois Mitterand on the basis of the plans submitted, according to the competition organizer Robert Lion, the envelope was opened and Johan Otto von Spreckelsen. a previously unknown Danish architect, was found to be the winner. He had built only his own house and two very small churches in his own country (RSA Journal. August. 1991). This is how one of the most monumental buildings of this century came into existence - a concrete cube measuring 110 metres across, hollowed out in the centre and dressed in white Carrara marble and glass, accommodating about 150.000 square metres of office space.

The building which seems simple is not. It rests on only twelve pillars, six on each side, a remarkably small number for such a colossal structure. In order to support it. the pillars are 60 square metres in area and their combined weight is twice that of the Eiffel Tower. The structural frame is made out of a solid piece of concrete, which had to be prestressed from every direction and needed suspension cables inside, as the building is in constant motion, in the order of 4 cm. Inclining the walls at a slight angle of 6 degrees helps to stabilize it. The site is crossed by railway tracks and roads, which made it difficult to place the feet of the


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