Paris approves controversial Tour Triangle skyscraper for construction

The Tour Triangle will be the first skyscraper to be built in low-lying Paris in nearly 40 years and lots of people aren't happy about it

Jessica Ware
Tuesday 30 June 2015 19:45 BST

Paris will see its first new skyscraper in nearly 40 years after the city approved controversial construction plans which have divided Parisians since plans were unveiled in 2008.

The Tour Triangle – or Triangle Tower – has sparked debate across the low-rise French capital since Swiss architect agency Herzog & de Meuron published designs for the 42-story tower block ahead of Paris raising the height limit on new buildings.

Inside, the tower will house a 120-room, four star hotel, a restaurant, a Shard-esque Sky Bar, and 70,000 square metres of office space. It should, Le Monde reported, create 5,000 jobs. At 180 metres tall, the Eiffel Tower will still rule the city's skyline at 300 metres.

The €500-million project will stand roughly the same height as the Gherkin in London and has been designed by the brains behind the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, the Allianz Arena in Munich and London’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. For most capital cities, the to-be tower would not be regarded as particularly imposing.

But Paris has historically kept its buildings low and classical. It has not built a modern skyscraper since the 1970s, when the 231-metre tall Tour Montparnasse sprung up – much to the horror of the locals, many of whom still consider it an eyesore.

Plans for the Tour Triangle were initially rejected by Paris’ city council in November 2014 but on Tuesday the huge glass project got the go-ahead from the same committee. There was a narrow majority of 87 votes for and 74 against and no abstentions, France24 reported.

The second vote was carried out in private after Paris’ mayor Anne Hidalgo dismissed November’s ballot as invalid, claiming inter-party fighting influenced the outcome. On Tuesday she tweeted that she was "proud and happy that Triangle could be born in Paris."

Paris introduced its height limit for new builds of just over 36 metres shortly after Tour Montparnasse was built. But it removed this in 2010, and citizens have waited nervously for its skyline to rise.

The Herzog & de Meuron building has always been opposed by French Green politicians who claim it is not energy efficient enough, according to France24. Residents living in the 15th arrondissement who will live around it are also reported to be displeased.

Back in November, a councillor who voted against the project, Danielle Simmonnet of the Left Party told Foreign Policy that the tower was “simultaneously megalomanical, anti-social and anti-ecological.”

Other critics said that the modern design jarred against the surrounding buildings, with Le Monde saying it “made no sense” standing “all alone” in the south of the city.

Others have argued that with a population of 12 million in the Paris metro area, skyscrapers are necessary to provide more space.

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