Keeping options open

French architects ECDM release two designs for assimilation into Grand Paris waterfront

by Sian 24 November 2011 Urban design
  • Images courtesy of ECDM Click image to expand

    Images courtesy of ECDM

  • Images courtesy of ECDM Click image to expand

    Images courtesy of ECDM

  • Images courtesy of ECDM Click image to expand

    Images courtesy of ECDM

  • of

    Building bold in such an illustrious cityscape as Paris, without causing detriment to the surrounding vision, is no doubt a daunting task, but one that French architecture firm ECDM have relentlessly beheld. Envisioning the design of two separate structures secured firmly along the banks of the river Seine, they seek to further follow a mantra of producing work which reflects the evolution and mutation of society at large. Whilst this criterion can remain open to debate, what’s starkly apparent from their commercial project ‘Ensemble de bureaux Zac Seguin - Boulogne-Billancourt’ is an attempt at effective assimilation - either to the notorious scenery surrounding it, or the yet untouched natural habitats interspersing their towering testaments to ‘du Grand Paris.’

    The first, known simply as ‘periscopes’ is an unequivocally determined attempt to construct according to external landscape; or as ECDM states: “If there is a special relationship to the river, to the matrix, the privileged views are deployed over 360°. Rise of a few tens of meters and a unique relationship is established between the building and Greater Paris.” Built to a looming height to ensure a 360° panoramic spectacle, jutting extensions provide the clientele the opportunity to bask in views extending beneath them, generating large vistas between the docks and park. This intrinsic blend of horizontal with vertical has the additional intention of seeking to acquire two types of commercial building.

    A compact base, designed to anchor the project in an affiliation with the surrounding urban area, acts as an effective means of gradually acclimatising entering visitors as they adjust to the enclosed conditions. The bottom two floors, having been combined to create a vast open space - a wide plateau of approximately 5,000 sq m - is a prime example of this attempted transition. Extending from the base flourishes cultivated outdoor spaces to further ease their clash of scenery. Advancing an essence of greenery are the various extended balconies and terraces intended for conversion into hanging gardens.

    ‘Origami’, meanwhile, is predominantly a visual blend of the outside seamlessly integrated into the confines of the building. Consisting of extensive glasswork, the evoked impression is of a supersized greenhouse; as the extremities extend further upwards, the impression of becoming absorbed into the everywhere increases, as the construction becomes lighter, more transparent, with a sense of porosity emerging. Closest to the 89m pinnacle of this trend-defying design can be discovered a large roof garden, vertically deployed to maximise exposure to those looking in. It is a project that intends to make a clear and visual impact on both its immediate and extended locale; to question standard aesthetic expectations: “Without denying the obvious qualities and ability to meet expectations specific to the program, our project reinterprets them in complex architectural oxymorons. It's about being compact and light, dense, slender, streamlined and composite.”

    Tom Aston


    Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

    Contact The Team