Naturalizing a modern building from 1950–1960s

In the heart of the Porte Maillot district, which is currently undergoing revitalization, PCA-STREAM revisits a modernist architectural heritage and extends the dialog between city and nature by naturalizing architecture. The relation to the landscape becomes the signature of a building that is meshed with its urban environment and its surroundings to the benefit of a high quality of life for its users.

Naturalizing a modern building from the 1950's - 1960's

Located on the very edge of the 16th arrondissement, this building occupies one of the main entry points of the metropolis from the west. On the edge of the Bois de Boulogne public park and the axe historique extending from the Louvre to Rivoli and onwards to La Défense, it remains discreet despite an extensive linear façade. The Porte Maillot district, which is relatively sleepy, is soon to undergo a revitalization process. With its large project works, such as Mille Arbres, and its strengthened connections under the impetus of the Greater Paris, it will present a new face by 2020. PCA-STREAM’s proposed restructuring for the Bruix building falls within this dynamic and aims to transform it into its new beacon.

Transforming rationalist architecture

The building is emblematic of the architectural rationalism of the 1950s and 1960s. It is a typical example of a prestige modernist office building from the post-war period. PCA-STREAM’s intervention respects this expression and reclaims the architectural qualities of the original structure. The grid of the north façade is reinterpreted according to a contemporary style that is inspired by the rigorous original fenestration. It emphasizes the exceptional linear frontage of the building and affirms it as a monumental screen on Porte Maillot and the Bois de Boulogne. Marble, glass, and aluminum—typical materials of the 1950s—confer new nobility to the historical facade. This exterior cladding, as well as the addition of a monumental double-height gallery setback on the top of the building on the entire length of Avenue de l’Amiral Bruix, reinforces the commanding presence of the building as viewed from Porte Maillot. Composed of glazed solar louvers, the transparent gallery is a hybrid space between the inside and the outside. Opening on exceptional views, it lights up at night time and then becomes an urban beacon.

Working in an interior landscape

Before PCA-STREAM’s intervention, the aging and stern-looking office complex was completely obsolete. The successive developments had caused it to lose its status and its original character. Significant restructuring aims to streamline the organization of the different floors to optimize their operations. As a result, communication is more effective and office spaces are highly versatile. The ground floor, which was completely lifeless, has been completely redesigned. It now opens on the city and on the garden to the rear of the building. Visual transparencies toward the garden are provided via the strategic placement of mirrors and openings, thus allowing the outside landscape to penetrate within the various interior spaces. The interior design is defined by the use of clear and reflective materials for daylighting purposes. The presence of wood in the fittings and the furniture further highlight its landscape dimension. Ubiquitous natural light becomes a source of comfort. The workspaces are functional and user-friendly; they foster team work as well as informal encounters and interaction. The services offered by the building are in line with the standards of the hospitality industry: the users of the building can enjoy the services of a concierge, a wide choice of food options, a lounge, and a work café.

Naturalizing the building

On the north side is a strict façade grid that is inspired by the building’s original functionalism. The southern façade is a very different proposition altogether, and it is both inhabited and planted. A naturalized architecture emerges from the harmonious integration of the building in its immediate surroundings, which includes neighboring mansion gardens and the large Bois de Boulogne park. All but lost to technical facilities and parking spaces, the surfaces have been fully reclaimed and naturalized. The façade has been widened with the long balconies on all floors, which offer the opportunity to get out and enjoy views looking down toward the garden. Vegetation clings to them and forms a bioclimatic plant coverage that will help naturally decrease the interior temperature of the offices during the summer months. The building creates a green continuum that climbs from balcony to balcony from the garden to the roof. On the ground floor, a series of wooden terraces extends the common spaces. Prairies of ornamental grasses form a sequence of wilderness that enhances local biodiversity.

Work in progress

Photographs by Jean-Philippe Mesguen.

© Jean-Philippe Mesguen
© Jean-Philippe Mesguen
© Jean-Philippe Mesguen
© Jean-Philippe Mesguen
© Jean-Philippe Mesguen
© Jean-Philippe Mesguen
© Jean-Philippe Mesguen
© Jean-Philippe Mesguen



Client AXA Real Estate
Context Paris
Program Restructuring of an office program
Location 15-25 boulevard de l'Amiral Bruix, 75016 Paris
Mission Complete
Surface area 17500 m² SDP
Status Work in progress (expected delivery in 2020)
Certifications HQE Rénovation Excellent; BREEAM Refurbishment Very Good; Label Effinergie Rénovation; WELL in Silver; BIODIVERCITY niveau Performant
Team — Client: AXA
— Supervisor: Vinci Immobilier
— General contractor: Egis
— Façades : Elioth
— Accoustics : Acoustb
— Economy : EGIS
— Environment: Green Affair
— Fire Safety: CSD Faces
— Technical control: BTP Consultant
— Landscape design: A&SE
— Exterior lightning: 8'18''
— Kitchen: Ceres
— Patrimonial advisor: Grahal