Perret tower (Grenoble)

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Perret tower
La Tour Perret
Parc Paul Mistral 2- Grenoble.JPG
The Perret tower as seen from
the Paul Mistral Park
General information
Status closed from 1960 and waiting for works
Location Grenoble, Paul Mistral park, France
Coordinates 45°11′05″N 5°44′07″E / 45.18472°N 5.735280°E / 45.18472; 5.735280
Opening 6 September 1925, by the council president Paul Painlevé, Edouard Herriot and André Hesse
Cost 385,000 FRF (in 1924) [1][2]
Owner Grenoble city
Height
Antenna spire 108 metres (354 ft)
Roof 95 metres (312 ft)
Technical details
Floor count Ground floor and 3 patios [3]
Lifts/elevators 2
Design and construction
Architect Auguste and Gustave Perret
Engineer Auguste Perret

The Perret tower, also named the "Tower to look at the mountains",[4] is an observation tower located in Grenoble, in the Paul Mistral public park. It is the first tower built in reinforced concrete in Europe.[5] In 1998, it was officially declared to be an national heritage site.[6] It was built in the field of the International Exhibition of Hydropower and Tourism[7] where it was the orientation tower and the symbol of the exhibition. Nowadays, it's the last vestige of this great exhibition.[7]

Architecture[edit]

Panorama from the tower in 1925

Perret tower stands 95 metres (312 ft) tall. Its section is orthogonal. Its foundations are 15 metres (49 ft) length,[8] made of 72 vertical stakes in reinforced concrete[8] gathered at the top by a slab and placed on a hard gravel layer. The framework is compound of eight vertical poles.[6] The tower diameter is 8 metres (26 ft) at the base.[9] The last floor is reachable by helical stairs (visible in the top openwork part) or by lift.[6]

Auguste Perret, with the assistance of Marie Dormoy, art critic, came in Grenoble for 2 years, to do conferences and meet political and artistic circles in order to show its "reinfored concrete order" ; a reference to the antique orders. Made of the first reinforced concrete, it is also the first free project made by Auguste Perret, its architect.

The tower is the sum of an architural and structural thought particularly modern and exact. It is a reinforced concrete structure whose formworks are modular and repetitive, and the prefabricated fillings are re-used from the "Notre-Dame du Raincy" church. It provoked all criticisms during its construction but it is a success which cost half as much as the other edifices of the exhibition.

Also named orientation tower, not because the four cardinal directions are mold at its top but because an orientation table asked by the Touring club de France, encircle it at the 60 metres (200 ft) level. This orientation table allowed tourists to locate the surrounding mountains with the pleasure to show a unique panorama on the Alps[6] and Grenoble because its height is about the same than the three towers of the Île Verte in Grenoble. So, it is one of the highest building in Grenoble.

History[edit]

Poster of the PLM railway company for the International Exhibition of Hydropower and Tourism in 1925 : at the centre the Perret tower, on the right tourism palace, on the left the railway and tourism industry palace along the Jean Pain boulevard

It was erected from the 20th of May 1924 to 4 May 1925 by the architect Auguste Perret who passed the contest of the city which made him responsible for its building. This tower was ordered by the city for the exhibition which took place between the 21st of May and the 25th of October 1925. The International Exhibition of Hydropower and Tourism showed production, transport and broadcast of the electricity as well as tourism which was the second economic resource in the Alps at the beginning of the century. During the exhibition, a floodlight was installed at the top to light the buildings.[10]

The 6th of September 1925, the exhibition was opened by the council president Paul Painlevé (of the French government), Édouard Herriot and André Hesse. The same day, more than 2,000 visitors reached the top of the tower by using the two elevators which drop them off to the orientation plateform located at 60 metres (200 ft) height.[10] At lunch, Édouart Herriot and André Hesse go down last and stay stucked in a lift and the tower staff don't notice it. During all the lunch it created some panic in police services.[10]

The International Exhibition of Hydropower and Tourism was a success. More than one million persons came to the city (85,000 inhabitants in 1925) which got benefits in spite of the huge works undertaken. The tower was both the less expensive building of this big exhibition and its symbol.

In 1929, an antenna was installed[10] at the top of the tower to broadcast radio programmes of the channel "Alpes-Grenoble".[11]

Nowadays, Perret tower is the only memory of those past events. This tower allowed Perret to prove the huge ability of reinforced concrete and make him famous as a great architect.

Today[edit]

The cardinal points on the top of the tower: visible here the N of North.

In 1960, the tower was closed to the public due to its degradation.[12] In 1998, it was officially declared to be an national heritage site.[6] Currently, the top of the tower is illuminated during the winter and is used as a support for the fireworks of the 14th of July.

No serious maintenance was made during the last 89 years and the tower degradation might become irreversible: iron frameworks are unsheathed or broken and oxidization of the iron framework leads the reinforced concrete to smash. In 1951, a facade screed was made (not efficient for life span).[13] In 2005, a study by Alain Tillier, chief architect of the national heritage sites evaluated the restoration cost to 4.5 million euros. Since, no work was done and the tower degradation got worse. In 2012, the Mouton study evaluated the cost to 6 million euros (inside and outside) whose 60% could be supported by a grant from the French government and from the local administrative department (Isère) because the tower is a national heritage site.[14] In these studies, the restoration includes the reopening to public as well as an upgrade to security standards.

The 12th of September 2013, the petition "Save the Perret tower" is introduced.[15] It gets more than 500 signatures during the first week and some local newspapers broadcast the information[16] · [17] · [18] · [19] · .[20]

The 6th of February 2014, the organisation "Ensemble pour la Tour Perret" meaning "Together for the Perret tower" is created to promote protection and restoration of the Perret tower, to broadcast its history and its heritage interest and to ensure and contribute to its promotion.[13]

During the municipal elections in March 2014, some parties promised to act for the tower restoration: the list "Croire en Grenoble" (UMP, UDI, AEI)[21] · ,[13] the list "Imagine Grenoble" (Modem)[22] · ,[13] the list " Aimer Grenoble pour vous" (PS, PCF, Cap21, MRC, PRG, GE, GO Citoyenneté)[23] · ,[13] the list "Grenoble une ville pour tous" (EELV, PG, Les Alternatifs, GA, ADES, Réseau Citoyen)[24] · [13]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cédric Avenier, L'ordre du béton. La tour Perret de Grenoble, CRAterre éditions, Labex AE&CC, ENSA Grenoble, mai 2013, 48 p.
  • Cédric Avenier, Anne Coste, The Perret Tower : architecture, art and press (relations d’Auguste Perret avec le milieu artistique de son époque : projet de la Tour d’orientation de Grenoble), 4th international Congress on Construction History, Paris, juillet 2012.
  • Cédric Avenier, Anne Coste, The Perret Tower : symbol of the 1925 International Hydro-electric Power Exhibition in Grenoble, and of the Cement and Concrete Industry, Engineering History and Heritage, ICE Publishing, London, décembre 2011.
  • Cédric Avenier, Ciments de l’Isère, deux siècles d’innovation, DL les patrimoines, 2010, 80 p.

References[edit]

  1. ^ (French) Faisons de la tour Perret un chantier pilote ! GRE City Local News, 18 September 2013
  2. ^ Cédric Avenier (May 2013). CRAterre éditions, ed. L'ordre du béton (in French). Grenoble. p. 27. 
  3. ^ (French) La tour Perret
  4. ^ Cédric Avenier (May 2013). L'ordre du béton (in French). Grenoble: CRAterre éditions. p. 43. 
  5. ^ (French) Tour Perret - Grenoble patrimoine-en-isère.fr
  6. ^ a b c d e {{:fr:Base Mérimée|PA00117204}}
  7. ^ a b (French) Modern and contemporary heritage
  8. ^ a b Cédric Avenier (May 2013). L'ordre du béton (in French). Grenoble: CRAterre éditions. p. 33. 
  9. ^ Cédric Avenier (May 2013). L'ordre du béton (in French). Grenoble: CRAterre éditions. p. 31. 
  10. ^ a b c d Cédric Avenier (May 2013). L'ordre du béton (in French). Grenoble: CRAterre éditions. p. 37. 
  11. ^ (French) Alpes-Grenoble
  12. ^ La tour Perret en quelques dates sur City Local News : « 1960 [...] il est décidé de fermer l’édifice au public, l’escalier et les ascenseurs étant devenus quasiment impraticables. »
  13. ^ a b c d e f (French) Blog Sauvons la tour Perret. Pétition pour la sauvegarde de la tour
  14. ^ Blog Sauvons la tour Perret
  15. ^ Sauvons la tour Perret de Grenoble sur www.petitions24.net
  16. ^ Grenoble: une pétition pour "sauver la Tour Perret" Le Dauphiné Libéré, 17 septembre 2013
  17. ^ Une pétition pour "sauver la tour Perret" GRE City Local News, 18 septembre 2013
  18. ^ Il faut sauver la Tour Perret 20 minutes, 19 septembre 2013
  19. ^ Tour Perret : la polemique relancée Place GRE'NET, 19 septembre 2013
  20. ^ Pétition "Sauvons la tour Perret" Fédération des Associations Patrimoniales de l'Isère (FAPI)
  21. ^ (French) Liste Croire en Grenoble (UMP, UDI, AEI), Matthieu Chamussy, Voir p. 4 et p. 11
  22. ^ (French) Liste Imagine Grenoble (Modem), Philippe de Longevialle, Voir p. 7
  23. ^ (French) Liste Aimer Grenoble pour vous (PS, PCF, Cap21, MRC, PRG, GE, GO Citoyenneté), Jérôme Safar, Voir p. 42
  24. ^ (French) Liste Grenoble une ville pour tous (EELV, PG, Les Alternatifs, GA, ADES, Réseau Citoyen), Éric Piolle, Voir point 87

External links[edit]