"Le quartier de La Défense" La Défense Tip by Klod5

La Défense, Paris: 20 reviews and 21 photos

  Paris - La Défense
by Klod5

Favorite thing: At the end of the first World War, plans were made to develop the axis from the Arc de Triomphe at the Etoile to La Defense. Numerous plans were submitted for the Voie Triumphale or Triumphal Way as it was known, most of them with endless rows of impressive skyscrapers in mostly Modernist style. Many of the plans which were submitted in 1930 came from renowned architects like Le Corbusier and Auguste Perret. None of these plans were realized, mainly due to the Great Depression in the 1930s.

In 1931 though, the authorities organized a new competition, but the intent was to limit the height of the buildings along the Triumphal Way. Only at the end of the long avenue, at the Défense, were towers allowed. This was recommended by the authorities as towers close to the center would obstruct the view on the Etoile. Most of the 35 (French) entries in the competition were either classical or modernist style, but again none of the plans were actually realized due to lack of funding. The main focus now moved from the Triumphal way to the Défense area, or La Défense. The name défense originates from the monument 'La Défense de Paris', which was erected at this site in 1883 to commemorate the war of 1870.

Fondest memory: In 1951, the Défense site was chosen as an office center. In 1958, development of the area was started by a special agency, the Etablissement Public d'Aménagement de la Défense. The first plan had 2 rows of skyscrapers of equal height. In 1964, a plan was approved to have 20 office towers of 25 stories each. Little of the development on the Défence was actually built according to this plan, as most companies started to press for taller office towers. The result is a mix of mostly cheap towers of different heights. The tallest of them, the GAN tower, measured 200 meters.The height of several towers, and in particular the GAN tower caused a public outcry as the 'forest of towers' disturbs the view on the Arc de Triomphe as seen from the Etoile. Partly in response to this criticism a new monument was built at the entrance of the Défense as a counterweight for the Arc de Triomphe: The Tête Défense , also known as the Grande Arche de la Défense.

The project to build the 'Grande Arche' was initiated by the French president Mitterand. He wanted a XXth century Arc de Triomphe. The design of the Danish architect Otto van Spreckelsen looks more like a cube-shaped building than an arch of triumph. It is a 106 meters white building with the middle part left open. The sides of the cube contain offices. You can take a lift to the top of the Arche de la Defense, from where you have a nice view on the city center which is only 4 km further.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written May 2, 2003
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