Oslo, Norway–based Snøhetta released renderings of the new Paris headquarters of famed newspaper Le Monde, revealing an exterior clad with a pixelated glass matrix that gives the façade varying levels of transparency and opacity, which will regulate interior temperature and lighting levels.
Snøhetta, collaborating with local partner SRA Architects on the project, intends for the exterior to look homogeneous when viewed from a distance but to appear more complex as one nears the building. Snøhetta uses the analogy of reading a newspaper's headlines before moving on to the content of its articles to compare the experience of approaching the building and discovering its architectural details. Snøhetta states in a press release that the façade's patterns "represent the building as a complete volume, while the distorted pixel map creates a rich tapestry from inside and out."
The renderings reveal an elongated building divided into two by an arching bridge along the Avenue de France that will link Le Monde's various departments. Conceptually, this bridge is meant to represent the connection between the media source and its readers. Underneath the bridge is an open public plaza that is also divided into two sections. One half faces the street and the Seine and includes a visitor center, auditorium entrance, and staff entrance. The other portion faces the railway and includes a café and green spaces. "Our approach has been one of subtraction, taking first a block filling the entire site and subtracting volumes to create entrance areas and public spaces," says the firm in its press release. The subtracted volumes also respond to planning restrictions placed on the existing site and the capacity of the structural grid.
The ceiling above the plaza signifies the transient flow of information, and will light up with embedded clusters of LEDs. The surface's relatively low resolution grid will be programmable to provide basic illumination or more abstract representations of news flow.
"Snøhetta shall continue to strive for an architecture providing the public with the notion of ownership, emphasizing intimate relationships between the public and Le Monde," said the firm's co-founder and partner Kjetil Thorsen in the release. "We also recognise the importance of this task in the current debates on the content of freedom of speech."