Lopez tower, designed in 1953 by Raymond Lopez, is an iconic building of the 20th century. One of the reasons for its reputation is its use of innovatory metal structure construction techniques.
The renovation of this building, formerly housing the Social Welfare offices, therefore demanded exceptional creativity. The architectural contribution of Arte Charpentier provided just that, preserving the key existing elements, such as the metal structure and the overall space organisation of the building while adapting it to current regulatory requirements and usage conditions. This renovation project respects the intentions of the original design, both in terms of visual and thermal comfort and use of space and light. Included in the programme were a series of housing units which are positioned along the perimeter of the site, for which architectural partner, Dominique Hertenberger, was responsible. This intervention places the Lopez Tower, now known as “Seine Panorama”, and home of the DCNS head office (ship-builders), in a residential context in Paris.
The original positioning of the tower at the heart of the site, at a sufficient distance from Rue Viala and Rue Docteur Finlay, has allowed the creation of gardens, designed by Péna Paysages, and a generous public entrance to the building. The entrance in the form of a fully transparent oval ensures visual continuity between the gardens on both sides.
This envelope of free space around the building is maintained as far as possible; new housing on Rue Saint Charles is positioned intermittently to maintain views to and from the tower.
The programme consists of maintaining the use of the main central building, the ‘Lopez’ Tower, as a 9-storey building, and of renovating the company restaurant of almost 13500m². 170 parking spaces were also created.
After the war, it was deemed necessary to bring together the 20 Social Welfare offices of the 15th arrondissement in one place. The chosen site, close to Rues Viala and Finlay, provided space for 5000 employees in a building designed by architect Raymond Lopez.
The Lopez Tower is an exceptional building and icon of 1950s modernism. However, in spite of the numerous experimental and innovatory construction techniques, the building did not meet present-day standards in fire resistance, and thermal and acoustic performance.
In 1998, the building was listed as a historic monument. Later on, the administrative tribunal, followed by the council of state, rescinded this decision. Notwithstanding, the Architects des Bâtiments de France, opposed a request for its demolition and in 2002, the Social Welfare Department finally decided to sell off the tower, its annexes and grounds.
The initial objective for architects Arte Charpentier, and Dominique Hertenberger (who was responsible primarily for the design and construction of housing on the site), was to bring the building up to modern standards, whilst respecting its original design aspirations and technicality.
Due to modern statutory requirements, a building of 8 stories is classed as an IGH, or tall building, and is the subject of restrictive fire regulations. To address this problem, the 8 storey Lopez Tower was reconfigured with offices on 7 floors and heating and ventilation plant on the eighth, which effectively released it from these restrictions.
The layout of a typical floor comprises a compact central core and a large expanse of open-plan and modular office space receiving natural light through a double-skin façade. The naturally ventilated 60cm space between the inner and outer skin allows significant savings in heating and air conditioning. The suspended ceiling follows the line of the tapering cantilever beams which narrow towards the façade and the glazing is suspended to avoid the need for structural supports.
The primary structural framework, in perfect condition, is of a post-beam type arrangement. The cantilevered beams are given extra support at their ends by metal hangers. Beams support the structural concrete floors and the façade system.
The storey height is 3.20m, with 2.45m floor to ceiling height in the centre of the building and 2.70m at its edges. The building complies with the High Environmental Quality (HQE) initiative which reduces overall running costs whilst providing optimal comfort for the users.
The total floor area of offices and restaurant provided by the new project totals 13000m² with parking for 160 cars.
– Client: OGIC / BNP Paribas Immobilier
– Investor: Lassalle Investment
– Property developer: OGIC / BNP Paribas Immobilier
– User: DCNS (ship-builders)
– Architect representtive: Arte Charpentier Architectes
– Associate architect: Dominique Hertenberger (housing)
– Interior architect: Arte Charpentier Architectes
– Landscaping: Pena Paysages
– Artist: Véronique Sabatier
– Lighting: Speeg & Michel
Structural: Betom & Scyna 4
Facades: Roland Peltier
Building services – fluids: Barbanel
Restaurant: Restauration Conseil
– Environmental certifications: HQE
– Address: 40-42 rue du Docteur Finlay et 20-22 rue Viala
– Post code: 75015
– City: Paris
– Delivery: October 2009
– Programme: renovation of the Lopez Tower (previously CAF – family allowance) designed by Raymond Lopez
– Office space to let: yes
– Specific services: company restaurant
– Surface area: 27,800 sqm