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Triangle Tower in Paris: work starts on environmentally ‘catastrophic’ project

The construction of a 42-floor, pyramid-shaped, skyscraper began in Paris on Thursday despite local opposition and objections from environmentalists who have called the project “catastrophic”.

The Triangle Tower (Tour Triangle) will, at 180 metres (590ft), become the city’s third-highest building after the Eiffel Tower, completed in 1889, and the Montparnasse Tower, which opened in 1973.

High-rise additions are rare in the inner-city limits of the French capital, which prides itself on keeping its historic character intact in the face of rampant development elsewhere.

Designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron, the Triangle Tower – which will resemble the shape of a giant wedge of Toblerone chocolate – is to be completed in 2026 at a cost of €660m (£555m), according to the developers, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW).

The plan for the skyscraper was launched in 2008 and then approved in 2015 by Paris’s socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, against resistance from her Green party allies in city hall.

Hidalgo, who is standing in April’s French presidential election, has tried to burnish her credentials as an environmental campaigner, tackling traffic congestion in the city and favouring clean transport, especially bicycles.

The conservative mayor of the 15th district where the tower will stand, Philippe Goujon, is also against the project, telling AFP that “the neighbourhood will be devastated for several years”.

Already, he said, there was a constant flow of trucks and “four giant cranes” had been deployed.

The city’s Green legislators have denounced the tower as a “climatic aberration” that should be abandoned because of its “catastrophic carbon footprint”.

Paris prosecutrs opened an investigation last June into possible favouritism over the lease of the land on which the tower is being built, after legal complaints from several associations fighting the project.

“How can you justify building a tower made of glass and steel, which needs huge amounts of energy, with 70,000 sq metres of office space, in Paris – a city that is already overflowing with offices?” the association “Collectif Contre La Tour Triangle” said.

The lease runs for 80 years and URW has agreed to pay city hall €2m a year for its duration.

About two-thirds of the tower’s 91,000 sq metres are to be used for office space, and there will also be a 130-room hotel, a childcare unit and shops.

URW, which also runs the shopping complex Les Halles in the heart of the city, has said that the building could be repurposed in the future as needs changed and that its carbon footprint was low.

Feeling the financial pain from two years of Covid restrictions, URW reduced its share in the operation to 30% and brought in the insurer Axa to share the cost.

Stock market investors welcomed the start of building work on Thursday, with URW stock rising nearly 6% on the Paris Bourse.

Post time: Sep-06-2022