Award-winning architect Dominique Perrault’s architectural firm made headlines with their amazing remodelling of Paris’s Industrial Post Office Building into a Mixed-Use Block. The iconic office building known as La Poste du Louvre at the heart of France is now a museum and a cultural centre. It was the biggest post office in France. The transformation took several years of work and a series of major projects.
Dominique Perrault Architecture won a competition out of 70 entries in 2012 for the proposal of transformation of La Poste Du Louvre. For the final phase of the competition, five entries were selected, among which, Dominique Perrault Architecture eventually came on top for their idea of modernizing the building and at the same time, preserving the historic heritage and its traditional architectural elements.
La Poste Du Louvre Golden Age and Fire:
Originally built from 1878 to 1888, this classic building served as the National Post Office of France. It was designed by Julien Guadet and was owned by the Poste Group. It was previously a stone block, closed on three sides. The building was open to the public through its single post office. The building was built using cast iron and steel roofing structures weighing 6300 tonnes. It was nearly the same as Eiffel Tower. La Poste Du Louvre was one of the masterpieces of late-19th-century industrial architecture.
The urban design connected the building to its environment. La Poste Du Louvre consisted of five passageways from the five streets of the Louvre. There is a central courtyard where all the five passageways converge. The courtyard was designed as an open-to-air industrial courtyard. It is estimated that in the mid-19th century, over 2500 people worked inside La Poste Du Louvre.
Unfortunately, in 1977, a destructive fire put an end to the golden age of postal service. The upper parts of the building were severely damaged by that fire. Along with that, the old enigmatic framework was reduced to ashes. Though the building was rebuilt, the reconstruction did not do justice to the architectural heritage. It was not until 2012, that a proposal was made to reconstruct the whole structure and Dominique Perrault Architecture was tasked to carry on the two-centuries-old legacy.
About the Architect:
The firm was developed by French architect Dominique Perrault. He started his career in the early 1980s after he completed his studies. After receiving recognition for his design of the French National Library in the early 1990s, he became a world-renowned architect. He is currently the head of Dominique Perrault Architecture (DPA) in Paris. Dominique Perrault received a French silver medal for town planning in 1990 for the design. After that, he received several French and other international awards for his designs. The firm designed several iconic buildings, making its way into one of the top-ranking firms in the world.
The New Building Concept and Objectives:
The main concept behind the reconstruction was ‘mutation’. Based on the principle of mutation, the refurbishment has seen the transformation of the singular functional building, dedicated to postal activities into a volume welcoming a mix of uses and the transformation of a closed volume into a more open volume.
The aim behind it was to maintain a traditional postal infrastructure with a post office, a mail sorting facility, banking services, and a new package hub. Another reason for the renovation was to create a new and more strategic logistics centre in Paris. Moreover, they wanted to reinforce the building’s round-the-clock operation with new activities throughout the week, from early morning to late night.
Changes After the Reconstruction:
Dominique Perrault aimed to preserve most of the original elements such as facades, metal roofing structures, cast-iron pillars, vaulted brick floor slabs, and marble fireplaces, as much as possible and blend them into the contemporary architecture of the renovation. The removal of asbestos, lead paint, and other cleaning up tasks took more than a year and the renovation started in 2016.
They deepened the existing basement level to create a car park and dug out a second basement level. Then, the hotel and rooftop terrace was created on the newly added level that rests on a metal superstructure supported by stilts. The building is now installed with high-tech fire protection that can withstand fire for about two hours.
The New Poste Du Louvre:
The new building now serves as a post office, police station, childcare centre, co-working space, two floors of offices, a hotel with 82 rooms, 17 social housing units, 4500 square meters landscaped terrace covered by an energy pergola made up of solar and photovoltaic panels.
All these things create this historic site a huge attraction to the local residents and tourists. The central courtyard is open to the public, where they are allowed to stroll and admire the modern facades and newly refurbished original structures.
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