PARIS (FR) - A facade comprised of undulating waves of glass sets this hotel apart from its surroundings on Avenue de Wagram in central Paris. Located on the site of the old Empire Theatre, the building's marked departure from the uniformity of its neighbours is portrayed as a reinterpretation of the architectural model set down by the Second Empire reforms of the late 19th century, otherwise known as the Haussmann Plan. Architect Christian de Portzamparc deforms the continuous built facade established by Haussmann's sweeping urban planning revisions, interrupting the homogeneity that traditionally runs the length of Parisian street blocks with a dynamic and textured surface suggestive of constant, rippling motion.
Shattering architectural rigidity, the intervention by De Portzamparc establishes an animated and highly visual new statement in glass. The snaking layers of bay windows are formed by large (3.6-metre-wide) glass sheets whose specially engineered irregular convex and concave curves recall the woven surfaces of a wicker basket. Opening views from the rooms towards both ends of the avenue, from the Place des Ternes in one direction to the Arc de Triomphe in the other, the glass plaits nevertheless remain within the building line, effectively breaking the monotony but not the overall form of its urban context. Although thus adapted to the dimensions of its environment, the building's extraordinary facade readily draws curiosity from a distance.
Sandblasting methods were used to texture the glass waves, thus also limiting views from exterior to interior and promoting privacy. The motif, inspired by the principles of screen printing, creates patterned horizontal bands of whiteness in the 2.5-metre-high windows that fade from maximum opacity at the base to transparent at the top, instilling a rhythm in the otherwise irregular rippling effect of the facade. Besides offering views and light, the insulated, ventilated and inscribed double glazing of the building's effervescent skin lends it a material presence quite distinct from the predominantly stone and concrete aspect of the prevailing urban aesthetic. (Dutton R. Hauhart)
Facade, Glass |