10 icons of contemporary architecture in Paris

Contemporary architecture rubs shoulders with the classical monuments of Paris

© Iwan Baan Eberle for Fondation Louis Vuitton

Paris is famous for the classical architecture of its façades and for its art deco constructions, but it is also home to many iconic examples of contemporary architecture.

In the west of Paris, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, inaugurated in 2014, organizes major exhibitions in the extraordinary building designed by the visionary architect Frank Gehry. Not far away, on the Esplanade de La Défense, La Grande Arche sits imposingly among the skyscrapers of the Paris region’s famous business district, and offers a spectacular rooftop view of the Champs Elysées. And from the Île Seguin, Boulogne-Billancourt is illuminated by the Seine Musicale, an outstanding music and performing arts centre.

In the centre of Paris, the Forum des Halles has had a major facelift. The exterior of the Parisian shopping centre is now crowned by a monumental canopy structure in a natural undulating shape. A stone’s throw away, the famous Centre Pompidou is another must-see example of modern architecture. This major Parisian art museum was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and also offers a panoramic view from its roof terrace. Near to the Eiffel tower, the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, dedicated to indigenous art and non-Western culture, was designed by Jean Nouvel and features an impressive vertical garden created by Patrick Blanc.

© William Beaucardet Philarmonie de Paris

Jean Nouvel is also the creator of another emblematic example of contemporary architecture in Paris: the Philharmonie. A sanctum of classical music, benefiting from impeccable acoustics, the exterior of the building, with its covering of silvery birds in flight and its ‘hilltop’ roof terrace, which is open to the public, is as surprising as its interior. Further on, in the Parc de la Villette, passers-by are intrigued by an enormous sphere made up of triangular mirrors: this is the Géode, designed by architect Adrien Fainsilber and housing a cinema with a giant hemispheric screen (la Géode closes its doors for two years from November 30, 2018, for renovation work).

In the south of Paris, the Cité de la Mode et du Design is immediately recognizable. Located on the left bank of the Seine, this audaciously renovated industrial building with its translucent bright green structure offers a spectacular view of the river. Another example of Renzo Piano’s architectural talent is the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation, inaugurated in 2014. In the shape of a horn of plenty in the heart of the Gobelins district (13th arrondissement) it houses a film theatre and spaces for exhibitions related to films and the cinema.

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