Saint-Gobain, a leader in building and highperformance materials, will set up its headquarters in a new tower developed by the Generali Group in the La Défense business district. Valode & Pistre has been retained by Generali, in consultation with Saint-Gobain and EPADESA, following an international architecture consultation (BIG, SANAA, Renzo Piano, SOM). Designed as the future showcase for Saint-Gobain's expertise and international image, the 49,000 m2 tower, spread over 44 floors and 165 metres high, aspires to an exemplary level of environmental quality, with particular emphasis on site integration, energy efficiency and user comfort. Designing a new tower today at La Défense means answering a large number of questions in a wide variety of fields: Functional issues (creating a flexible place, an efficient building) - technical and construction issues (the site is complex, full of constraints, even traps, and we are well aware of the difficulties) - societal issues and the quality of living conditions in a high-rise building - urban issues (as La Défense takes on a more urban fabric) and symbolic issues also (as this involves building the headquarters of a large French company). But beyond all these concerns a tower, more than any other building, involves and affects people. The expectation from a building as visible as this is first and foremost to feel an emotion and the architect's primary role is to provoke this emotion.
Several architectural strategies meet this objective:
•The Tour Saint-Gobain has been designed as architecture playing with light. Light is the essential material of the project.
•This tower is made up of an assembly of "crystals" and the play of aspects, angles and type of glass makes it alternately transparent or reflective.
The aim is to give the building a magical dimension that changes with the time and place from which it is viewed. Another way of creating emotion is to turn the tower into a sculpture. A sculpture employing a new geometry - rhombohedra. The rhombohedron is a cube with faces shaped as diamonds or parallelograms instead of squares or rectangles. A dynamic is created instantly. With the same height and volume as a normal straight prism, the silhouette soars upwards and the tower stands out from the others. A unique tower that surprises. Its variations compel the interest in this huge tripartite composition. Our naturally anthropomorphic perception turns it into a character, which turns and bends slightly to receive and welcome us. The observer is also touched by ambiguous graphic play between the horizontal, the framework of floors on the façade, and the oblique, parallel to the upper and lower faces of the rhombohedra. This questionable game creates a rhythm, a vibration, a kind of music... Another dimension that affects the public today profoundly - a deep-set trend in our society - is attraction for the natural environment. This tower gives pride of place to nature: large glasshouses contribute to the environmental image and performance and gardens on all floors are directly accessible from the office spaces. A contribution to the La Défense/Courbevoie urban couture The tower seems to float above the ground. Its oblique undersides broaden the visual field from the esplanade and follow the new stair railings that connect it to Boulevard Circular (ring road) below. The tower thus contributes to the muchsought- after urban couture and the reurbanisation of the boulevard. Its morphology is designed to present main and expressive façades in all directions. It becomes a link between the worlds of the La Défense esplanade and ring road and the Courbevoie residential areas. An efficient, functional and flexible tower The tower has been designed as a real working tool to serve the company. It is arranged in three sections, comprising: •a main body where all the floors, with the same footprint, are dedicated to office spaces. •a lower section containing the services, including premises open to the public, in particular a showroom. •an upper section: the Plein Ciel (Open Sky) space Given the tower's location on the edge of the slab, alongside the ring road, it enjoys both main and pedestrian access from the esplanade and another access at ring road level that provides an address on the boulevard along with taxi, VIP and bicycle access. Between these two levels, the •The office areas are large, simple in shape - a slightly elongated rectangle - and the core is slightly off-centre to provide varying depths - 7 m and 12 m. Natural lighting is exploited to the full as 90% of the areas outside the core are within 7 m of the façades. The geometry and framework of the space is highly flexible, allowing a variation in space planning using more or fewer partitions. •The highest floors located in the top prism are home to the meeting, communication and reception areas. A restaurant and a large indoor garden complete the facilities. Exceptional working conditions The office areas are panoramic with excellent natural light. The very high window lintels, low apron walls and the limited depth of the spaces encourage the relationship with the outside. The office floors have accessible, outdoor gardens that are nevertheless protected from the wind. The dining areas are varied and have outdoor views. The communication spaces are enhanced by their location and by their architectural expression directly visible on the esplanade. The main hall, combined with the showroom, opens wide onto the esplanade as a sign of welcome. An environmentally- and energy-efficient tower The tower’s architecture has been designed with a focus on environmental concerns. An array of spatial, architectural and technical solutions combine to make the tower environmentallyfriendly. But more than anything, installing reversible radiant ceilings and a very low-speed air displacement ventilation system combined with the very high thermal performance of the façade has been key to achieving very ambitious goals. Rainwater is also collected for watering the gardens and the vegetation naturally helps to cool the glasshouses. The Tower can be qualified as a bioclimatic space.
La Défense, France
Tower 170 m high (38 floors)
Offices 2,200 work stations
Glasshouse with Mediterranean
Worksite in progress
Delivery in 2019
TERREL (Technical Design Office - Structures and fluids)
LASA (Acoustics Engineer)
ARTELIA (Technical Design Office - Fluids)
TRANSSOLAR (Technical Design
Office - Environment)
VERITAS (Inspection Body)
13 hanging gardens
of 44 m2, double height, planted with:
Hawthorn, Dog Rose, Roses with Geraniums as cover characterised by their resistant foliage.
Top of Tower
40 m high and 130 m above the esplanade, four levels of planted terraces growing in a 40 m high
glasshouse with a temperate atmosphere allowing the development of Mediterranean
vegetation made up of large trees including the Russian Olive, Strawberry Tree and Pomegranate as well as other plantings of Roses, Achillea, Mugwort, Acanthus, etc.
150 DIFFERENT SPECIES OF PLANTS
Tall trees: 3.50 m tall
• Russian Olive (terraces at top of tower)
• Strawberry Tree (terraces at top of tower)
• Hawthorn (garden terraces)
• Pomegranate (garden terraces)
• Black Olive (restaurant glasshouse)
• For all trees, 1.00 m
• For supporting plants, 0.60 m
1,500 TONNES OF SOIL
Saint-Gobain, a leader in building and highperformance materials, will set up its headquarters in a new tower developed by the Generali Group in the La Défense business district. Valode & Pistre has been retained by Generali, in consultation with Saint-Gobain and EPADESA, following an international architecture consultation (BIG, SANAA, Renzo Piano, SOM). Designed as the future showcase for Saint-Gobain's expertise and international image, the 49,000 m2 tower, spread over 44 floors...
- Year 2019
- Work finished in 2019
- Status Completed works
- Type Office Buildings / Concert Halls / Showrooms/Shops / Bars/Cafés / Restaurants / Interior Design