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La Défense

La Défense is a major business district of the Paris aire urbaine. With a population of 20,000, it is centered in an orbital motorway straddling the Hauts-de-Seine département municipalities of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. The district is at the westernmost extremity of Paris's 10 km long Historical Axis, which starts at the Louvre in Central Paris and continues along the Champs-Élysées, well beyond the Arc de Triomphe before culminating at La Défense.
La Défense is seen as comparable to Canary Wharf in London: both are spaces where "statements of corporate ambition can be made", without thereby encroaching on the historical quarters of the city. Around its 110-metre (360 ft)-high Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"), the district holds many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises. With its 77.5 acres (314,000 m2), its 72 glass-and-steel slick buildings including 14 high-rises above 150 metres (490 ft), its 180,000 daily workers and 3.5 million square metres (37.7 million sq ft) of office space, La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district.

The Triumphal Way
At the end of the first World War, plans were made to develop the axis from the Arc de Triomphe at the Etoile to La Défense, an area at the edge of the center of Paris.

Numerous plans were submitted for the Voie Triumphale or Triumphal Way as it was known, most of them with endless rows of impressive skyscrapers in mostly Modernist style. Many of the plans which were submitted in 1930 came from renowned architects like Le Corbusier and Auguste Perret.
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None of these plans were realized, mainly due to the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Grande Arche de la Défense
The project to build the 'Grande Arche' (Great Arch) was supported by the French president Mitterrand who wanted a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe. The design of Danish architect Otto von Spreckelsen looks more like a cube-shaped building than a triumphal arch. The 106 meters (348 ft) wide building has a central archway. The sides of the cube contain offices while the rooftop has a belvedere that until 2010 was open to visitors.

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Additional Photos by Csaba Witz (csabagaba) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 591 W: 172 N: 1398] (6554)
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