Dezeen Magazine

C42 by Manuelle Gautrand

C42, a new showroom and brand experience for carmaker Citroën has opened on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.


The building is designed by French architect Manuelle Gautrand.


Here's the lowdown from Citroën:



27 September 2007



Thursday 27 September 2007: today lifts the covers off the C42 - the first new building on the Champs-Élysées in more than 30 years and a stunning showcase for one of France's most iconic and beloved marques.


Combining innovative architecture, compelling style and a bold approach to design, the C42 - C for Citroën, 42 for the building number - embodies both the rich history and contemporary vision of the Marque. Incorporating a series of displays that are open to the public, this newest landmark on Paris' world famous avenue is located on a site that this year celebrates its 80th year in the hands of Citroën.


The C42 project is the work of one of France's leading architects, Manuelle Gautrand. She was awarded the prestigious contract in 2002 after her designs won unanimous support in an international competition.


The bold, prominent design of the C42 echoes the spirit of creativity and innovation that has always been such an integral part of Citroën's philosophy, while further reflecting the style renaissance that the brand has undergone over the past few years.


Standing 30m high, the striking glass latticework exterior is dominated by soaring chevrons that assert the building's Citroën identity. The complicated geometric glass and steel façade took five months to assemble and weighs an incredible 86 tonnes.


Visibility and light are both dominant themes of the C42's design. During the day, the glass-fronted face allows sunlight to pour into the showroom, enhancing the sense of space and highlighting the building's reflective surfaces. By night the C42 is illuminated in a play of light in the recognisable Citroën shades of white and red.


Providing the central focus to the building's interior are eight rotating turntables topped by mirrors, each featuring a different Citroën model, that rise up vertically through the building to create a spectacular column of cars.

A panoramic elevator carries visitors from the atrium to the top floor where they can enjoy superb views of some of Paris' most recognised landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Place de la Concorde. As visitors walk down from the top floor they can get closer to each of the exhibits, which will change in a series of planned, seasonal exhibitions, and use the touch-screen displays to learn more about them.

For the opening, the models on display illustrate the theme of "sustainable innovation". Starting with Citroën's pioneering Traction Avant, visitors move on to experience innovative models such as the 2CV, DS and C6 before reaching the ground floor platform and the futuristic concept car, the C-Métisse.

First acquired by Citroën in 1927, 42 Avenue des Champs-Élysées has seen many reincarnations in design and utility. Now, after three years in construction, the C42 is once again in the perfect position to showcase Citroën at the heart of Parisian and French culture. And with foreign visitors making up 50% of the 'traffic' on the Champs-Élysées, the C42 is set to captivate a truly international audience.