Almost-new look for Tour Montparnasse

Architects aim to get rid of dark blob on the Paris skyline and bring skyscraper up to date

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One of the most disliked features on the Paris skyline is to be given a new look; with the Tour Montparnasse being given a clear glass skin instead of the present brown.

The capital’s only skyscraper – La Defense is in Hauts-de-Seine – was built in 1973 and since then the answer to tourist queries on the best view in Paris has been “from the top of the Tour Montparnasse”.

A competition featuring 700 different architectural agencies saw French consortium Nouvelle AOM win with one of the few that kept the original shape of the tower as others attempted to disguise it by adding a second, larger tower, or an extra façade.

The Nouvelle AOM design grows the tower by an extra 18m on top of its 210m and this will be filled with a biosphere greenhouse that will enhance the view from the restaurant. It will also feature solar panels and rainwater capture tanks.

There will be vegetation on all floors, including a suspended garden on the 14th floor.

In addition, the new transparent glass facing panels all round will contain a natural ventilation system that will improve the building’s energy efficiency – meaning that for 75% of the time the air in the building will be natural and not air-conditioned.

A hotel will occupy the 42nd to 45th floors and the base of the tower will be given extra room for outdoor areas that will be open to the public. The architects hope to at least double the number of visitors.

In all, the whole project (which includes removing dangerous asbestos from the tower and its associated buildings) will begin in 2019 and finish before the 2024 Olympic Games at a cost of €300million, funded by the tower’s main owners.