Manuelle Gautrand's winning showroom

Jo Livesey
Saturday 15 Mar 2008

The unique glass & steel Citroën C42 showroom

Citroën, have a long history of embracing modern architecture to create unique spaces in which to showcase their products. Examples include the iconic Marbeuf building, designed by Bazin and Laprade in 1929, a glass-façaded showroom on the Champs Elysées, designed by Maurice-Jacques Ravazé and opened in 1932. This was overhauled in 1984 as the ‘Hippo-Citroën’, a combination of car showroom, café and restaurant, the site has now been given a thoroughly modern reconstruction.

The new building, known as C42, was designed by architect Manuelle Gautrand after an international competition. C42 marks a return to the large glass façade, only this time with a distinctively brand-centric spin; the famous double chevron logo is woven into the 30m high faceted front.The architect describes the frontage as ‘an allegory of automotive design,’ in the way the 86-tonne latticework of glass and steel encloses the display space within, yet is also freestanding and self-supporting, just as a car’s bodywork is a structural element in its own right. Inside, a central mast rises up the full height of the space, containing suspended rotating platforms to display cars and concepts.

Born in 1961, Manuelle Gautrand qualified as an architect in 1985. After working on several joint projects, she set up her own practice in 1991. Despite her young age, Manuelle Gautrand has already designed numerous projects in France and has been singled out in the French and international press. In 2005, she was invited to the Deutsches Architektur Museum in Frankfurt to present her design for the Citroën showroom on the Champs-Elyées.

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