Architecture is always dream and function, expression of a utopia and instrument of a convenience.
Roland Barthes, The Eiffel Tower.
The Tour EDF occupies an exceptionally prominent position on the southern flank of the dalle, directly opposite the monumental sculpture commemorating La Défense de Paris.
The distinctive form of the tower has its origin in our conviction that the privilege of building on this key site carries with it a corollary obligation to enhance the public realm of La Défense. To this end, we have shaped the Tour EDF in such a way that it does not stand aloof from the dalle, but rather makes an engaging gesture toward the Parvis de La Défense, celebrating the monument that denotes its heart.
Most importantly, the carved prow of the tower makes room for the circular marquise that floats above a raised platform at its base. Here, sheltered by a generous canopy of metal and glass, passersby are invited to pause and enjoy the splendid view from a vantage point located precisely on the central axis of the Grande Arche at the Tête de La Défense.
In this way, even so lofty a building can help bring human scale and activity to the urban space in which it stands. By the same token, even this quintessential instrument of a convenience can embody, so I believe, the palpable expression of a utopia.
Henry N. Cobb
10 April 2001