Citroën’s new Paris showroom at 42 Champs Elysées designed by Manuelle Gautrand will be sited on the exact spot where André Citroën started his first workshop in 1920. The new architecture is entirely driven by the building’s functional requirement as a luxury showroom: a project creating unity between place and product. Departing from the traditional model of front, roof and rear, the building is a transparent volume whose curves and fluidity recall the continuity of the volumes of an automobile.
At ground level, the façade of minimalist large rectangular glass resembles the original design. The geometrical flatness and decorations on the glazing recall the beginnings of modernism and works like Auguste Perret’s garage in Rue Ponthieu (1905). With the Citroën showroom, Manuelle Guatrand has made decoration an architectural feature. As the building curves sinuously upwards, Citroën’s double chevron hallmark gradually turns into triangle and lozenge shapes. They finally become prisms bringing new depths to the glazed surface that becomes a three dimensional structural element.
The very top of the building will be like a great glass sculpture, recalling origami in its complexity. The façade is marked out by the discrete yet regular repetition of the logo who’s definition gradually becomes part of a more complex shape. Some glass panels have a red filter - the marque’s signature colour – while others are opaqued to minimise solar glare and overheating. The result is a pearly white atmosphere inside the building.
The car display case shoots up through the building around a central mast supporting eight circular platforms. As well as slowly turning to show off the car on all sides, the platforms have mirrored bases to reflect the underside of each automobile. Circulation pathways are designed to take visitors upwards on staircases and walkways through the whole exhibition to the panoramic cafeteria at the very top of the building.