Modern times

New forms and materials: Paris has another look in the 21th century with amazing feats of architecture

La Grande Arche de la Défense © Thinkstock

Under the influence of great architects such as Le Corbusier, the appearance of constructions was simplified, rejecting all ornamentation, and grew more diversified. Architecture utilised industrial materials such as concrete, steel and glass.

From the fifties through the seventies technical prowess and new forms somewhat changed the Parisian landscape: the immense concrete vault of the CNIT at La Défense, the seat of Unesco constructed on piles, the Maison de la Radio, the Montparnasse Tower and the towers of the business quarter of La Défense were the new reference points in the capital’s skyline.

In 1977 the Pompidou Centre was the talk of the town with its bold esthetics in the very heart of Paris, in rendering visible the entire structure of its construction. Quarters were modernised and remodelled: Les Halles, Montparnasse, Grenelle with the Front de Seine, La Villette… Glass facades were more and more in fashion.

Under the presidency of François Mitterand, major works were undertaken and gave Paris new monuments: the glass Pyramid of the Louvre, the Grande Arche de la Défense, the Opéra Bastille or the National Library of France. It was also the time of the creation of the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Fondation Cartier. Since 2006, a new modern building, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, and dedicated to primitive art the Musée du Quai Branly opened. Main building shaped curve, green wall, glass facades, red and yellow cubes: the monument contemporary surprises and astonishes.