Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes have won the international competition, held among a panel of selected architects, to strengthen the protective measures in place around the Eiffel Tower with the purpose of improving the visitor’s experience.
The terror attacks at the Stade de France and Bataclan in 2015 and then in Nice on Bastille Day 2016 prompted the French authorities to strengthen their security policy at popular and crowded tourist locations. Visitors had to be able to move freely and safely.
The project idea put forward by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes, a world-renowned Paris-based firm, convinced the competition jury because of their clarity, the way in which visitor flows were to be structured, and their provision of an excellent overview for the security forces.
Two walls made of bulletproof high-security glass - 200 metres long and 3 meters high - maintain the key urban development axis from the École Militaire to the Palais de Chaillot, and the structuring of visitor flows ensures the clearest possible view. The wall’s glass is 72 millimeters thick; it consists of six layers and is difficult to climb over. The special glass is highly transparent and gives the appearance of lightness; it is fixed in a self-supporting manner in the ground, with the individual joints between each panel being covered with stainless steel plates. On the walls are mounted surveillance cameras and lighting - a simple cube of stainless steel, which is flush with the profile. The glass panels protrude beyond the steel plates, making the wall look even more delicate. The wall is also remarkable because it is designed to be inconspicuous and noise-repellent. There are fixed bollards along the sidewalks of the busy Quai Branly to protect against vehicle ramming attacks.
The inner, revitalized World’s Fair park, enclosed with Corten steel fences, can now be admired and enjoyed by all visitors to the Tower.
In designing the entrances to the Tower through the historic landscaped garden, Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes adopted an approach similar to the one they used when redesigning the bridge to the Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. They looked at the overall situation and sought to bring it closer to its original state; with the bridge on slim supports, the silting of the Mont Saint Michel was halted and reversed. In the case of the Eiffel Tower, they have created a clearly defined, supervised area around it, bringing the garden back to life as an integral element in the planning. An essential factor in designing the protective measures was to keep the urban axis between the Palais de Chaillot and the École Militaire as well as to reactivate the small-scale visual references in the park.
The entrances to the Eiffel Tower have been reorganized. You enter the area of the landscaped garden, which has been carefully restored and faithfully redesigned by the Swiss landscape architect Vogt, in the vicinity of the Avenue Gustave Eiffel on the narrow flanks of the park: six adjoining, equally transparent entrance gates of glass with filigree glass roofs, on which two security points control visitors, ensure that visitors move in a speedy but orderly manner.
The glass gates are supported by a filigree steel structure. The side enclosure of the site is obtained by a Corten steel fence. Its oval shape, in its execution and design, is very much in keeping with the organic nature of the park, its historical route and the special-ness of the place. The Corten steel elements of the fence are 324 cm high - exactly one hundredth of the height of the Tower. Its shape is also aligned with the Tower’s silhouette: the fence is wider and more stable at the base, running upwards – like the Tower - to a connecting profile. This feature makes the fence hard to climb; it is prefabricated in two-meter-wide pieces and looks like a paper fold. It harmonizes with the surrounding flora. In the lower area the fence is reinforced by a dense metal mesh.
The exits are also integrated in the fence’s oval arch. Round glass revolving doors are protected by glass roofs from the weather. If you want to get to the Eiffel Tower, you now have to go through the park. A walkway hat introduces to the encounter with the Eiffel Tower. All the measures that have been set in place to protect the Eiffel Tower can be dismantled. In four years' time, the Paris Senate and the police will reconsider the situation and decide if they are still necessary.