Snøhetta Chosen to Design Le Monde's Headquarters in Paris

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By William Lamb
The "evolution of media" and the relationship with the reader are themes.

The Groupe Le Monde, the publisher of what is arguably France’s most prestigious media property, announced last week that it had chosen Snøhetta, the architectural firm based in Oslo and New York City, to design its new headquarters building in southeastern Paris.

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Snøhetta's design for the Groupe Le Monde headquarters building in Paris calls for a facade of pixelated glass "with varying degrees of transparency, translucency, and opacity." It is designed to appear somewhat homogeneous from a distance, but more dynamic and complex up close.

The building, which will also house the offices of the news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, is expected to be an anchor of Paris Rive Gauche, a new neighborhood that is being redeveloped on the left bank of the Seine River near the Gare d’Austerlitz, in the city’s 13th arrondissement.

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The building is expected to be an anchor of Paris Rive Gauche, a new neighborhood that is being redeveloped on the left bank of the Seine River near the Gare d’Austerlitz, in the city’s 13th arrondissement.

"The evolution of media is in focus, and in particular the future relationship between readers and media users, the production of media on different platforms, and their connection to the public at large," says Kjetil Thorsen, a co-founder of Snøhetta and one of the firm’s partners, describing the "open and accessible" design of the new complex.

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The vaulted ceilings on the underside of the "bridge" connecting the building's two volumes will be embedded with clusters of LED lights that can either provide simple illumination or be programmed to represent the flow of information in the digital age.

Snøhetta’s design—conceived in collaboration with a local partner, SRA—was chosen over proposals submitted by David Chipperfield, Shigeru Ban, 3XN, Rem Koolhaas, and Renzo Piano, Le Monde reported. It will be Snøhetta’s first building in Paris.

The firm envisions the structure as essentially two buildings, one of which would house the Le Monde newspaper offices, joined by a bridge "representing the bridge between Le Monde and its readers," according to a statement from Snøhetta. The space beneath the bridge has been conceived as a public plaza. One half, facing the street and the Seine, will have a visitor center, auditorium entrance, and staff entrance. The other half, facing the train station, will be more intricately landscaped, with a café. The vaulted ceilings over the plaza will be embedded with clusters of LED lights that can either provide simple illumination or be programmed to represent the flow of information in the digital age.

The building’s exterior will be "a pixelated matrix of glass with varying degrees of transparency, translucency, and opacity," according to the firm. The idea is that the building will project a homogenous façade when viewed from a distance but reveal its texture when seen up close.

Le Monde reported that it expects to occupy the new building in the summer of 2017.

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