valode & pistre has unveiled the ‘tour saint-gobain’ tower, located within the la défense major business district in paris, france. designed as the future showcase for company saint-gobain’s expertise and international image, the tower is an efficient, functional and flexible link that connects the worlds of the la défense esplanade and ring road, with the courbevoie residential areas.

tour saint gobain 1
all images courtesy of valode & pistre 



valode & pistre‘s primary concern was to create a tower that involves and affects people. the architects aimed to evoke emotions through their scultpural design, employing a new dynamic geometry: rhombohedra. the rhombohedron is a cube with faces shaped as diamonds or parallelograms instead of squares or rectangles. with the same height and volume as a normal straight prism, the silhouette soars upwards and the tower stands out, with its variations compelling the interest in this huge tripartite composition. the observer is also touched by the 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. 

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the tower’s distinct, expressive morphology makes it seem like it is floating above the ground. it is arranged in three sections: the main body which houses the office spaces, the lower section that includes the services, and other premises open to the public, and the upper section which is the ‘plein ciel’ (open sky) space. given the tower’s location on the edge of the slab, alongside the ring road, it allows 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 and bicycle access.

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the office area section is an elongated rectangle with a slightly off-centre core, providing varying depths from 7 to 12 m. the geometry and framework of the space is highly flexible, allowing a variation in space planning using more or fewer partitions. the floors located on the top prism include the meeting, communication and reception areas, while a restaurant and a large indoor garden complete the facilities. the office areas offer a panoramic view of the city, and the high window lintels, low apron walls and the limited depth of the spaces provide sufficient natural lighting and encourage a relationship with the surroundings. the office floors have accessible, outdoor gardens that are nevertheless protected from the wind. the main hall, combined with the showroom, opens to the esplanade as a sign of welcome.

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the tower has been designed with a focus on environmental concerns, with an array of spatial, architectural and technical solution combination making the tower bioclimatic. reversible radiant ceilings and a low-speed air displacement ventilation system were installed, in teaming up with the very high thermal performance of the façade, in order to reach positive environmentally-friendly results. in addition, rainwater is collected for watering the gardens, and the vegetation naturally helps to cool the glasshouses.

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project info:


name: tour saint-gobain
architecture office: valode & pistre




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edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom