Tour Signal by Jean Nouvel



Here is a set of images from architects Ateliers Jean Nouvel of their competition-winning design for Tour Signal at La Défense, Paris.


Nouvel beat four other shortlisted architects, including Foster + Partners and Daniel Libeskind, to win the competition - see our earlier story about the shortlist.


The 71-storey tower will have four sections, each with a large atrium creating balconies on the exposed floors and will include office, hotel, residential and retail spaces.


Here's some more information from the competition organisers:


The winner is Ateliers Jean Nouvel.

The team has chosen to locate its project at the Porte Ouest to open up the La Défense neighbourhood to Puteaux.

This project’s ambition is to create a strong hub at the heart of the Greater Paris region, creating a significant draw at the same time as establishing a relationship between the project and its natural and built-up environment, embodying the various temporal considerations which strengthen the links between a project and its environs.


The project comprises 71 storeys, forming a mixed-use building which brings together apartments, hotels, offices and retail premises in the lower section.


It is made up of four blocks piled one on top of the other with atriums forming huge windows, each facing in alternate directions. These perspectives reveal floor levels which form balconies within each of the atriums.


Team: Nouvel - Medea – Layet
ana Desarollos Immob iliarios
Site: Port e Ouest
Height: 301 m

Surface area: 140,000 sqm consisting of:
Offices : 50,000 sqm
Residential: 33,000 sqm
Hotel: 39,000 sqm
Public facilities : 8,000 sqm
Retail, restaurants: 10,000 sqm


Tour Signal, a high-quality environmental and emotional project

As the CNIT or the Grande Arche have marked the history of the business district in their time, the Tour Signal, France’s first ever mixed tower, will become the symbol for the regeneration of La Défense. It will reflect the daring architectural approach and exemplary environmental practices that characterise the fresh impetus given by the EPAD for the regeneration of La Défense.


Sustainable development, a key issue for the plan to regenerate La Défense La Défense, a very energy-hungry district (over 150,000 employees and 20,000 inhabitants) that is constantly being worked on must put new operating and construction methods in place in order to minimise impacts on the environment. In this way, the EPAD, driven by its Chief Executive Officer, is committed to making sustainable development one of the priorities for the plan to regenerate La Défense, and is looking to make it an example and a model in this area.


The EPAD would like the commitments made and actions carried out for La Défense to be applied in general, representing a new international standard. In addition, the EPAD has successfully rallied together some 600 stakeholders responsible for business districts, architects, academics, entrepreneurs and members of international organisations, thanks to the organisation of the first global summit of business districts for sustainable development and the creation of the international network of business districts for sustainable development.


Approaching this new phase in its history in this way, La Défense is openly committing to the path of sustainable development.


Tour Signal: symbolising the environmental commitment…
The French President indicated, in his closing speech for the Grenelle de l’Environnement roundtable process on Thursday October 25, 2007, that “priority must be given to reducing energy consumption by buildings”. This concern is shared by the EPAD, which has asked the teams bidding for the development of the Tour Signal to apply innovative solutions, including a strong focus on renewable energy.


Their projects must also comply with the requirements for the three key sustainable development levels – economic, social (quality of life and well-being) and environmental – with the consistency and balance between these aspects within the proposed architectural concept representing key factors for the choice of the winning project.


…and the entirely new very high emotional quality concept
Combining creative strength, formal audacity and technological modernity, the Tour Signal project represents for the EPAD a way of introducing a new dimension for developed sites within this business district. By creating the entirely new very high emotional quality concept, the EPAD is committed to building France’s first ever mixed tower, combining apartments, offices, hotel facilities, retail outlets and cultural facilities. The architects must therefore factor in exchanges between the various populations – workers, residents, retailers – for their creative review, in order to establish a genuine emotional quality of life within La Défense. In this way, the candidates have had to set out how the project will ensure an overall optimisation of the design, systems and use of space, and more specifically shared spaces.


The Tour Signal project, a new stage at the heart of 50 years of innovation

Representing a showcase for the national economy, a laboratory for pioneering construction and a melting pot for tall buildings with a human face, the business district was born in 1958, the year when the Cnit, its first emblematic monument, was inaugurated (architects: Robert Camelot, Jean de Mailly, Bernard Zehrfuss). The second was created around 30 years later, based on a hollowed out cube some 110 meters high, built on the historical axis that virtually links the Louvre courtyard to the terrace at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.


The appearance of the Grande Arche (designed by the Danish architect Otto von Spreckelsen) in 1989 marked La Défense’s entry into “adulthood”, while enriching it with a heritage and tourist dimension. In the meantime, a 160 hectare courtyard, three generations of office towers and around 50 works of art had given the district its illustrious nobility.


Since then, new towers have continued to be added to its skyline. The third emblematic monument of La Défense is to come. The Signal tower will combine retail outlets, apartments, services and offices, reflecting the EPAD’s commitment to a daring architectural project with exemplary environmental practices, characterising the fresh impetus for La Défense.


Tour Signal: symbolising the ambitious redevelopment of La Défense

La Défense has represented a laboratory or even a pioneer in terms of architecture. The Tour Signal project, through its original approach and ambition, represents the driving force that will enable La Défense to maintain its status as Europe’s leading business district, while also making its image even more dynamic.


Tour Signal will mark the history of La Défense. Its specifications are governed by two ambitious demands: on the one hand, sending out a major architectural message to the world, conveying creative strength, formal audacity and technological modernity; on the other, building France’s very first genuinely mixed tower, combining offices, apartments, hotel facilities, retail outlets and cultural facilities.

Dynamic project contributing to the appeal of the Greater Paris Region and France in general The Tour Signal project and the plan to regenerate La Défense embody values that are firmly focused on the future, in line with the ambition set out by the French President for a France that is dynamic, modern and committed to protecting the environment. In this way, Tour Signal will demonstrate the continued vitality of an innovative region that can be proud of working towards the development of an effectively controlled economy centred around people, within an environmentally-friendly framework, facilitating exchanges between all levels of life.

La Défense, as the Greater Paris Region’s major economic asset, will in this way contribute to the appeal of what is set to become “the great Paris”. La Défense is not positioning itself to compete against the new commercial areas that are developing
around Paris today; in fact quite the opposite, it is further strengthening the appeal of the Paris Region with European and global competition.

Posted on Sunday June 8th 2008 at 8:49 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • JZ


  • roadkill

    the world has gone mad…

  • bald skull

    wow, sweet rectangle. and this guys diss’s gehry? WTF!

  • tommi

    love most of his design is unpredictable & seriously can’t wait to visit this one!!!

  • ben

    should be interesting, but the renderings are absurd and confusing. is it a multi-use building or a house of horrors?

    would love more details on the buildings energy efficiency.

  • apiss

    i dont get it… what kind of drawings are these?… what have architecture turn into?… bring back its significance… oh please

  • ROD

    It seems great, if i can understand

  • Tyler

    yeah, crappy stuff, dezeen! :<

  • Paul, Yorkshire

    The images are completely unrealisitc
    They’ll have to give out free sunglasses at the entrance
    Fosters’ design was better

  • MM

    These renderings are something completely different from the norm. I think they’re very brave to portray what is really a corporate building type with such emotional bravado. I doubt however that the client will allow the red ‘atrium of doom’ to be built anything like we see it here… let’s see!

  • Take the glass off the atria.
    Fill them with green trees, lawns, ponds, park benches.

  • tjboy

    human start to be like a hamster…live within a decorated box…hu3…

  • bad

    kinda oma-ish, anybody with me on that?

  • edward

    Those atrium renderings are grossly overstated as to size. But the idea is original and interesting. I like the purity of the volume, especially compared to the competition. What made the 2 WTC buildings so powerful, was the closeness of the vertical elements disguising any perception of windows that would give scale. They looked like giant monoliths! This building might give the same impression, but it’s kind of hard to tell from these drawings.

  • DJ


  • brown_ie

    I rather the “tour sans fin” project made by Nouvel in the last decade, has a better concept, rather than the stack boxes, and glossy renders….and the green point of view..WHERE?…I just see huge internal spaces, that they will have to fill with AC!!!..specially next of big glass walls….it´s boring..and the only nouvel thing is the weird colorfull imges pasted in some walls!!!…but ít´s really BAD OMA project


    empty rooms where nothing happens.. great thinking, and worth the cost ;-)
    capitalism has taken over, and even Paris now wants to become Dubai.
    To my opinion, one should be building for people who need buildings for living, and not just for personal pleasure.. To me it’s quite masochistic, and a thorn in the side of all poor people..
    architecture has once again lost morality, when the world is crying for a change.. architecture is a powerfull tool, so please: let’s think about better solutions to change things..

  • ryan

    can someone explain to me what the “very high emotional quality concept” is? because i’m not seeing it in the renderings.

  • ThirskUK

    ahhh… I miss tour sans fin…

  • g.

    please take the time to read and see the site of the competition [and see also the other projects…] – before making superficial remarks .

  • dinosaur

    disappointing renderings :( yuk

  • Mark V

    The project does not yet appear to be anything of great worth. If a matter of great importance, sustainability I would like to see some representation of such a thing. Can we assume that it is economically sustainable since business leaders are involved? Fine. Environmentally? Requires some drawings/diagrams. Socially? This would require a bit more text. Maybe it includes affordable housing… though it seems unlikely. I need to be further convinced, but it is a decent start.

  • ales

    magic! like paris, wine & edith piaf

  • M.

    why did he used fractal images on an euclidian building???

  • R.sridhar

    Excellent job with the technology.
    Good rendering.
    I really like the IDEA of using the color such as RED is exposed which can be notified from the other part of the cities, GREEN at top which combines with landscape at the top.

    If all the balconies opens to the atrium area it will be to good.

  • Impressive, but the red atrium looks like Hell.

  • amonwalls

    I agree with bad, it is very Om or Zen like, I love it! It’s simple retagular box filled with these Natural Elemental colors (Earth, Air , Fire and Water) are bad ass and futuristic, way ahead of it’s time.

  • andresr

    I don’t think I ever saw a proposal worked out, or at least portrayed, as poorly as this one. All the atria are simply huge spaces where some cheap graphic gimmick plays some sort of theatrical backdrop role in a play lacking actors… quite frankly I’m getting annoyed at all these empty proposals winning all the important competitions, they NEVER end up looking anything like they claimed once they’re built…. CRAP

  • Steve D

    The renderings are interesting and if the final plans are what the renderings are portraying, minus the outlandish fractal images, then I personally don’t see how this building could possibly environmentally friendly. Sure it might use some methods of a green building, but one this size especially with all of the empty spaces would be a nightmare to keep air conditioned unless every single occupant, business, and retail outlet that would use space in this structure would have to be a millionaire to keep up with building utility costs. Whatever happened to Frank Lloyd Wright’s idea of affordable Usonian houses for the majority of the population? Did that die when starchitects like Frank Gehry took to the scene and spit out crap buildings that were endorsed by movie stars like Brad Pitt?

  • radicaline

    can’t wait to see the real one…

  • alien

    I like the little vortex on the green picture..

    Is that a portal to another dimension
    where people actually take this architecture serious??

  • nikolai

    foster is better…i think just because nouvel is french so he won this project…

  • alexander

    For the people who critisize “unrealistic” renderings, its like critisizing James Bond for being unrealistic. Its a vision not a build project, of course it has to be a little more poetic. And so are all of the rest. Just look at Fosters renderings, they’re like straight from surrealist paintings.

  • rodrigo escobar cespedes

    madness is the essence of life ….