Arche de la Défense (Grande Arche)

The Arche de la Défense or Grande Arche is an office building located in the La Défense business district to the west of Paris (France), in the territory of the commune of Puteaux. Inaugurated in 1989 at the time of the bicentenary of the Revolution under the name of the great arch of the Fraternity, and built on the historic Parisian axis which begins at the Louvre Palace and continues along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and beyond to the Pont de Neuilly and the Arche de la Défense.

A great national design competition was launched in 1982 as the initiative of French president François Mitterrand. Danish architect Johan Otto von Spreckelsen (1929–1987) and Danish engineer Erik Reitzel (1941–2012) designed the winning entry to be a late-20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe: a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than military victories.

The construction of the monument began in 1985, with most of the work being carried out by French civil engineering company Bouygues. Spreckelsen resigned in July 1986 and ratified the transfer of all his architectural responsibilities to his associate, French architect Paul Andreu. Reitzel continued his work until the monument was completed in 1989.

The Grande Arche is in the approximate shape of a cube with a width, height, and depth of 110 m (360 ft); it has been suggested that the structure looks like a hypercube (a tesseract) projected onto the three-dimensional world. It has a prestressed concrete frame covered with glass and is covered in Bethel Granite.

La Grande Arche was inaugurated in July 1989, with grand military parades that marked the bicentennial of the French Revolution. It completed the line of monuments that forms the Axe historique running through Paris. The Grande Arche is turned at an angle of 6.33° about the vertical axis.

The most important reason for this turn was technical: with a Paris Métro station, a RER station, and a motorway all situated directly underneath the Arche, the angle was the only way to accommodate the structure’s giant foundations. In addition, from an architectural point of view, the turn emphasises the depth of the monument and is similar to the turn of the Louvre at the other end of the Axe Historique. In addition, the Arche is placed so that it forms a secondary axis with the two of the highest buildings in Paris at the time, the Tour Eiffel and the Tour Montparnasse.

The two sides of the Arche house government offices.

Located in: Espace Grande Arche.

Address: 1 Parv. de la Défense, 92800 Puteaux, France


Thursday 10 AM–7 PM
Friday 10 AM–7 PM
Saturday 10 AM–7 PM
Sunday 10 AM–7 PM
Monday 10 AM–7 PM
Tuesday 10 AM–7 PM
Wednesday 10 AM–7 PM

  • Architects: Johan Otto von Spreckelsen, Paul Andreu, Erik Reitzel, Peter Rice
  • Construction started: 1985
  • Height: 111 m
  • Architectural style: Modern architecture
  • Opened: July 14, 1989
  • Function: Monument

See more:

20 arrondissements of Paris

Architecture of Paris

Museums of Paris

Entertainment in Paris

Bridges in Paris

Parks in Paris

Streets and squares in Paris

Shopping in Paris

Transport in Paris

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