By Théodore Guuinic, Pauline Bodin-Hullin & Antoine Wattel
PARIS needs a PLAN B to limit its environmental footprint and the cost of its evergrowing expansion. The growth of Paris on top of itself is an alternative not only to the urban sprawl, but also to the destruction of the small buildings that mark the history of Paris. With wooden vertical extensions, Paris 2.0 would provide a tangible answer to today’s needs, whilst perpetuating an intimate continuity with its history.
Among the vast choice of Parisian roofs to heighten, a very singular one stroke us for many reasons : The BIG ARCH (1989), standing at the head of Europe’s biggest Business district of "La Défense". Firstly, it offers both a strong structure and an extended roof. Most importantly, its functions, geometry and situation give it a unique symbolic power, which would make it the perfect embodiment of a sustainable symbol of the post "concrete-and-steel" era.
What’s more, the BIG ARCH also needs a PLAN B. The North Wing has remained without a tenant for several years and needs some adjustments, while some works are being undertaken at the moment in the South Wing. The roof is currently not accessible due to the weakness of the exterior elevators.
The existing arch’s South Wing hosts two emblematic departments of the French Government : the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, and the Ministry of Housing and Sustainable Habitat.
Within a few years, the world’s contructions will deplete our planet’s resources in sand, mainly for the purpose of concrete constructions. Environmental disasters are already happening in southern countries due to massive sand extraction. As a result, the BIG ARCH, a gigantic stone-and-concrete block, will need a PLAN B to properly assert its symbolic role of "temple" of ecology and sustainable habitat.
To address this matter, the B(IG) ARCH project aims at giving the monument a new legitimacy, by adding a number of functionalities dedicated to regular citizens, like housing, innovating start-ups’ offices and facilities. The new building’s mixity would make it a symbol of the new paradigm of people’s participation to sustainable development. That’s why the B(IG) ARCH project integrates renewable energy production (electricity through solar panels) and bioclimatic architecture techniques.
The new structure is made out of wood, simply because it’s the only sustainable material we have. This structure stands on the existing concrete megastructure, which could be reinforced using carbon fiber techniques. Kerto’s performances and lightness inspired us ambitious possibilities in terms of long span structures and coating, but also in terms of flexibility : it provides generous and customizable spaces at unseen scales.
The housings of the project’s North Wing offer punctual extensions to the flats, allowing the addition of an extra bedroom, office or balcony. Thanks to a beam-gliding extension system, these add-on boxes could be easily set up, and could provide each apartment with a valuable extension, mixing a homey intimacy with horizon views. Thus the new building will adapt to the needs of the future…