Tour Bretagne

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Tour Bretagne
Nantes 2008 PD 61.JPG
General information
Status In Use
Type Skyscraper
Location Nantes
Coordinates 47°13′01″N 1°33′31″W / 47.216944444°N 1.558611111°W / 47.216944444; -1.558611111Coordinates: 47°13′01″N 1°33′31″W / 47.216944444°N 1.558611111°W / 47.216944444; -1.558611111
Construction started September 30, 1971
Opening November 18, 1976
Height
Antenna spire 472 ft (144 m)
Roof 391 ft (119 m)
Technical details
Floor count 37[1]
Floor area 172,000 sq ft (16,000 m2)
Lifts/elevators 8
Design and construction
Architect Claude Devorsine
Structural engineer Marcel André

Tour Bretagne (Brittany Tower in English) opened on November 18, 1976 at 5pm, is a 37 stories skyscraper situated in downtown Nantes between a main thoroughfare, Cours des 50 Otages, and Place Bretagne (Brittany square).

With a height of 472 feet (144 meters),[2] it dominates the skyline of the city of Nantes and is the third tallest building in France outside of Paris, after Tour Part-Dieu in Lyon and CMA CGM Tower in Marseilles. Built on the water tank, the antennas reach an approximate height of 144 meters, 25 meters above the last floor.

Initiated by André Morice then Mayor of Nantes, it was conceived by French architect Claude Devorsine.

History[edit]

The building dominates Nantes' skyline

The tower stands on an old area in the center of the city called "Le Marchix". This old Medieval quarter had been considered dirty and dangerous long before the 1943 American bombing which considerably damaged it.

During the post-war redevelopment, the construction of two important modernist buildings along Place de Bretagne, housing the Treasury General, the Social Security building and the main post office inspired officials to build a skyscraper nearby. Tour Bretagne was meant to represent the economic power of the city and to display it to the world.

In 1966, with the encouragement of the people of Nantes, a group called SELA (Société d'Equipement de Loire Atlantique) was put in charge of developing the project. SELA asked Claude Devorsine, a today forgotten architect, and Marcel André, an engineering advisor, to bring the project to reality. In 1968, the plan was to construct a six story parking garage at the base of the tower, completed with a gas station, which the cars could access via an exterior ramp. The next three levels were to be a shopping mall with space for 25 boutiques and a restaurant. The offices would occupy the rest of floors except for the top floor, which would house a restaurant that would give panoramic views of the surrounding area.

The tower and the Cours des 50-Otages

The work began on September 30, 1971 and was to be finished by summer 1974. However, the construction is protracted by a number of delays, mainly due to an unforeseen number of changes to the plans during construction. Finally, after five years of work, the tower was opened in 1976.

Once completed, the tower was a failure. Ten years had been necessary to plan and build it and mentalities had changed since the 1960s. The building was then seen as a symbol of an inhuman urbanism focused on profit and as an architectural error distorting the traditional cityscape.

It was an economic failure as well, remaining mostly empty for a long time, in part due to the high rent. The restaurant on the 29th floor was soon closed due to technical problems and free visits to the observation deck were stopped after frequent suicides. Furthermore, no businesses opened at the base of the tower as had been initially envisioned. To utilize the 170,000 square feet (16,000 square meters) of office space, the city government decided to move a part of its administrative offices to the tower.

Tour Bretagne in the fog

Technical details[edit]

Water tanks on top of the tower surrounded by antennas

The tower, which measures 144 meters (472 feet), has eight elevators, seven escalators and a water tank on the roof that can hold 24,000 gallons. Due to change in plans, the building now has seven levels of parking, three "ground floors", a "level zero" (which is situated 66 feet above street level) and 29 floors of offices topped by a few floors containing machinery. The Tax Bureau, Nantes Metrocenter, and the offices of the city Employment Bureau occupy three-quarters of the buildings floorspace. Nearly 800 people work in the tower each day. The tower is managed by a group of co-owners composed of mainly banks but also the city government.

The tower today[edit]

By the end of the 20th century, the inhabitants of Nantes, after long lamenting the tower's rigid and monolithic presence, have begun to begrudgingly accept the tower. One can see the gradual acceptance of the tower as it has begun to appear on a number of post cards, once thought completely unimaginable, and is now mentioned on leaflets distributed by the tourism office.

The 32nd floor terrace was reopened on June 15, 2012 after being closed for more than 10 years. Fully refurbished and secured, it hosts a restaurant and its layout suggests a huge bird nest, hence the restaurant's name, "Le Nid" (The Nest). The terrace gives a full 360 degree view on the city and its surroundings.

A panoramic view from the top terrace
Tour Bretagne (2).jpg
Observation deck

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nantes-tourisme.com/activite/tour-bretagne-2426.html
  2. ^ Tour Bretagne

External links[edit]