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Saclay, France, Radar Tower, Barthélémy Griño Architectes

High Elegance: Radar Tower by Barthélémy Griño Architectes

The radar tower on the campus of the École Polytechnique is one of the first projects of a large science cluster planned for the Plateau de Saclay, also known as Europe’s Silicon Valley. The tower, which is more than 60 metres tall, ensures reliable air-traffic control for the nearby Paris-Orly airport. The tower rises above the treetops and is a new emblem of the area, whose development is currently underway.

A radome rests atop the cylindrical tower, which has an imposing diameter of 13.9 metres. The monumentality of this seemingly simple shape is evoked by means of its material and the shape of the light-grey post elements of concrete. However, the tower does not appear in any way massive: when visitors look from below, the light shines through, giving an impression of lightness.

Each of the 12 tiers consists of 28 regularly spaced elements; each section is offset by a half (the axis), serving to break through a consistent verticality. The tower construction is extremely complex, yet it seems simple and, at the same time, elegant.

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