MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong, unveils “Mirage” ─ a renovation proposal for Montparnasse Tower in Paris, France. MAD’s design transforms this huge black monolithic building ─ positioned in the city center ─ into an artistic lighting installation that reflects the city upside down.
After its completion in 1973, the 210 meter-high Montparnasse Tower became the tallest building in Paris. But through the years, there has been constant criticism over its intrusive existence in the city, that it has been coined the ‘scar of Paris’. In 2016, the owner called an international competition to renovate the tower, and MAD was one of seven short-listed firms out of more than 700 teams to participate.
MAD’s design uses concave principles to create an optical illusion by setting every glass panel of the façade to a specific angle, so that the building itself turns into a city-scale concave mirror. The streets and rooftops of the neighboring buildings appear as if they are hanging in the sky; while the sky is mirrored onto the lower section of the building, blending into the atmosphere. The design creates a mirage of Paris, but upside-down, as if it is floating in the air. And, Paris’ other city landmark, the Eiffel Tower, will also appear upside down when looking at Montparnasse Tower from that direction.
Ma Yansong on the design: “At the time when it was built, Montparnasse Tower, like the Eiffel Tower, represented the pride and achievements of its era. It is mankind’s worship of technology and power that has created this tyrannical monument. It stands out amidst classical Paris. Today, we cannot really demolish this building and the historical regrets it stands for, but we can establish a new perspective to re-examine and think about how humanity can co-exist and interact with the tower and its environment, to bring meaning to our hearts.”
MAD’s “Mirage design proposal is currently on show in the Tour Montparnasse Exhibition at Pavillion de l’Arsenal, Paris.