After decades of trying to lay his footprint in the skyscraper-rich La Défense district of Paris' Metropolitan Area, French architect Jean Nouvel is confident his latest scheme will finally break the self-described curse. Backed by Hines and AG Real Estate, Tour Hekla is scheduled to begin construction in 2017 and become an instant landmark in a neighbourhood filled with modern glass office towers.
The 49-storey, 818,057-square-foot complex received its building permit in June, opening up timelines for development. At 214 metres tall, the crystalline profile of the skyscraper will form a high and unique peak on the skyline. While most of the project will be composed of offices, a 10,000-square-metre student residence in the form of a 22-storey tower will inject the local area with young talent.
The development's strong attention to the public realm manifests itself through a vegetated walkway that will be repurposed from an overpass currently closed to traffic. The softscaping elements continue at the top of the building, where four expansive terrace levels produce an engaging open space. A 250-seat auditorium, conference facilities and four restaurants spread across three floors complete the building's internal program.
Nouvel's previous proposals for La Défense were either outstripped by other competition-winning designs or fell victim to the whims of the economy, like Tour Signal in 2008 and the 452-metre-tall Tour Sans Fins in 1989, which would have been the tallest skyscraper in Europe. If Tour Hekla is completed, it will become the second tallest building in France, just behind the 231-metre Tour First.
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