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13/09/2021

The World according to Snøhetta

At 67-69 avenue Pierre Mendès-France, in the 13th arrondissement in Paris, stands a spectacular building designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta where the Le Monde group brings together all its titles… a strong economic sign, to the time of the digitalization of the press and teleworking.

The new headquarters of Le Monde is above all the result of an outstanding collaboration between two men, Louis Dreyfus, the chairman of the group's executive board, and Kjetil Thorsen, co-founder of the Snøhetta agency also known for the new library in Alexandria, the construction of the Oslo Opera House or the design of the pavilion for the September 11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero. The building won the 2020 SIMI Grand Prix, in the “new office building over 10,000 m2” category. Le Monde, Courrier International, Télérama, La Vie, Le HuffPost now coexist on the same site, in an HQE building, in the company of L'Obs, in premises cleverly fitted out and equipped with furniture that respects all the new constraints of the regulations European: lowest carbon footprint and zero waste footprint.

The human takes the lead

This is not the first time that Le Monde has moved and each time, it is an exceptional adventure to be managed with skill. From boulevard des Italiens, to rue Falguière, to boulevard Auguste Blanqui and today to avenue Pierre Mendès-France, Le Monde has always known how to choose renowned architects: Baron Haussmann, Pierre du Besset and Dominique Lyon, Christian de Porzamparc… For this new challenge, the Snøhetta agency was chosen, and which worked in close collaboration with SRA Architects.

© Jared Chulski

The project, which had been underway for six years, finally saw the light of day in 2020 in intramural Paris, also thanks to the will of the mayor of the 13th arrondissement, Jérôme Coumet. The building, through its large arch, thus provides a link between two difficult areas of the district, the quays of the Seine and the quays of the Gare d’Austerlitz. The glass facade with fragmented reflections leaves the visitor speechless.

In the reception area, large signature staircases link the first floors of the building. In the editorial conference room, unique in its kind, spiral staircases connect the two floors of the editorial staff. This is where the agency has been able to create and materialize the heart of the newspaper Le Monde, where its content and analyzes are born: in an open well between the 4th and 5th floors, there is an agora for journalists where humans hold the first role. For the first time the brain of a newspaper materializes in space.

© Jared Chulski
© Jared Chulski

On the roof, welcoming terraces overlook the Seine and Paris and allow Le Monde employees to meet. It is a space open to all.

The SK § Associés and Archimage agencies were responsible for the common areas on the seven floors, terrace, cafeteria, restaurant… and the 200-seat auditorium. A work which consisted in finding a dialogue with the architectural lines and the materials used by Snøhetta while expressing a personal project. For users already experienced in the exercise of communication, it was necessary to introduce into the auditorium a notion of originality. A large stage set accompanied by a comfortable tiering makes it possible to physically bring the spectators together and offers the possibility of acoustic shows with great flexibility to adapt to different visual, sound or living scenographies. The seats in the auditorium are signed Figueras.

A strong signal

Louis Dreyfus did not fail to point out that the desire of Pierre Bergé, previously a shareholder in Le Monde, had always been to favor the workspace. The choice of a new building is a strong economic signal, at the time of the digitalization of the press and the generalization of teleworking. These strategic choices and these investments in infrastructure demonstrate the group’s desire to equip itself with a working tool that is both beautiful and efficient, promoting emulation and which makes the World an indisputable benchmark in the profession.

© Jared Chulski

With the construction of this building, the sign is given of the ability of everyone to stay connected with each other, within a dynamic and ambitious group. Le Monde is targeting 460,000 digital subscribers at the end of 2021 (content and services) after posting an increase of 60%, reaching 364,000 at the end of 2020. A record.
During the next visits, do not forget to bow to Hubert Beuve-Mery’s small office propped up on the grand staircase. A collector’s office of a visionary man who had not hesitated to defend his policy of developing the newspaper in the heart of post-war Francoist Spain during a conference at the University of Navarre in 1967. In two years, he had succeeded in doubling the circulation of Le Monde. Louis Dreyfus is on his perfect trajectory.

 

Bénédicte Duhalde