In Paris, the former headquarters of Peugeot invents a future (almost) without a car
It’s not easy to remain avant-garde… Built by the Sainsaulieu brothers between 1963 and 1973, a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe, the 110-metre-long building is a symbol of the Avenue de la Grande-Army. Given the era and its role as the headquarters of the Peugeot Group, it was an ode to the car between its three-story showroom to admire the brand’s productions and its central access to a huge underground car park. Gecina, owner of the site since 2015, two years before Peugeot’s definitive departure, is therefore orchestrating the complete restructuring of the 33,500 m² of this building.
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Launched in early 2019, work is now in the home stretch before tenants make their own arrangements. The premises are already 87% rented, knowing full well that the consulting firm Boston Consulting Group alone will occupy 23,500 m². The international office Baumschlager Eberle Architekten was responsible for the musical accompaniment of the revitalization of the place. An approach that respects the existing, both to pay tribute to the original architecture and to the ecology, which consisted in enlarging the original choices while adapting the places to the current uses.
Reduction of parking spaces
Decisions that lead in particular to maintaining the current facade with its exceptional format (110 meters long in a Haussmannian setting). To give it more relief and luminosity, the spandrels (the wall of the lower part of the windows) were removed and one of the two windows was installed in boxes of 4 different depths. An approach that animates the facade, mixing concrete and steel while respecting its original geometry. Only the top floor escapes this change with a floor-to-ceiling glazed tier to take advantage of the exceptional view of the main axis connecting the Grande Arche de La Défense to the Louvre Pyramid.
Gone is the grand entrance that allowed cars in and out through the center of the building, via a giant spiral leading to the underground parking garages. The driveway is now closed and glazed and the driveable inner courtyard has been converted into a garden. The underground garages have been preserved, but the space allocated to the car has melted uniquely. Access is now more discreetly from the rear of the building complex on rue Pergolèse, and much of the space has been reserved for storage, bicycles and technical equipment that appeared on the roof in the past. Result: almost 350 places available compared to more than 600 in the past. In the end, unlike many current renovations, there was no “clean” surface design. On the other hand, the gain was made by optimizing the spaces, gaining a covered courtyard, without forgetting 1,000 m² of walkable internal gardens and 1,800 m² of terraces conducive to the development of biodiversity.
Another place from which the cars have since disappeared was the “Grand Gallery”, which served as a showroom and where the emblematic models of the lion brand were presented on the ground floor and on the mezzanines. Completely liberated from these intermediate levels, the place has an incredible triple height under the ceiling where one moves in the common areas on the ground floor. With its spectacular concrete porticoes treated with imitation metal, it almost feels as if you are under the nave of an industrial cathedral.
Finally, as in many current locations, the maximum has been done for ecology and the reuse of materials. The granite slabs removed under the windows of the facade were simply polished before becoming the floor covering of the ground floor. On one of the roofs is the largest “photovoltaic farm” in Paris and finally geothermal heating. On the other hand, Gecina is more discreet about the cost of the work than she communicates. We only know that the rent is very comfortably located in the family of “top” office rents.
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