"The primary merit for the picture is to be a feast for the eyes." Delacroix
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
- Steve Jobs
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." –Dr. Albert Einstein "Wonder is comes from the awareness of ignorance of religious mass"
Architect: Edouard François
Location: Paris, France
Client: Groupe Lucien Barrière, Groupe ACCOR
Structural engineers: COTEBA Ingénierie
Decorations: Jacques Garcia
Gardens: Pré Carré, Marc Vatinel
Lights and illumination: Light CIBLES, Louis Claire
Year of enchargement: 2003
Year of completion: 2006
Constructed area: 18,000 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Agence Edouard François
French architect and landscape designer Edouard François was encharged of the renovation and façade design of the Fouquet’s Barrière Hotel in Paris, which is located in one block facing Avenue des Champs Elysées. The architect mission was the general plan of the whole hotel, including courtyards, administration offices and a spa service, spread on different plots of the “golden triangle”, and the design of new facades for extensions.
The surrounding area is the most elegant and expensive of the whole metropolis, and very significant in terms of architecture and relation with the context.
The project key-word and practical operation is “COPY – EDIT”. Through this operation, the building declares its belonging to the 21st century keeping strong connection with the Haussmann epoque, as a bridge between two centuries. The new façade stands on the corner of the back street, and it is showing off also in different points of the block.
The decision to reproduce the typical Haussmann façade which stands on Champs Elysées, with his characteristic windows, basement, roof and decorations, in grey concrete panels, is more significant than a simple imitation: it’s a re-interpretation of the “old” through nowadays industrial technology. The dimensions of the concrete panels are not the same as the typical stone blocks of Paris, but the composition of tones of grey remind them clearly. Beside the accuracy of the reproducing work, at first sight the façade seems to belong to that Hausmann époque: here is the “COPY” work.
At the same time, the opening of clean windows, rectangular, horizontally orientated and sharply framed, together with the closure of the “old” windows, makes clear that the façade has been softly and firmly modified by a new force. As the interior distribution does not correspond anymore to the façade levels, the new window boxes are just shown off on their proper position.
The new windows, sticking out randomly on the elevations, can be considered as the aggression of the “old” façade by the contemporary intervention, as transition from the renovated interior towards the outside.
This is the “EDIT” work.
Furthermore, new relevance is given to the old Haussmann façade, by the moment it has been re-built: new architecture seems to need a basis coming from the past as a support to propose its presence, even though that one is clearly fake. The value of this project consists in the originality of the basic operation, which opens to multiple interpretations about the relation of contemporary architecture with the past heritage.