Suspended Skirt

This Paris-based studio reimagined the most iconic structure in the world – the Eiffel Tower – as a provisional framework for athlete housing during the 2020 Olympic Games. The prompt encouraged us to consider the tower not as an object loaded with symbolic or cultural meaning, but rather as piece of structure with larger urban implications. Having been designed after a pylon, the tower has the capacity to bear ten times its own weight. The largely underutilized structural and infrastructural potential of the tower provides an ideal opportunity for parasitical building. In addition, a temporary construction situating Olympic housing in the center of the city, with a foundation already in place, could potentially provide a more certain economic future than mass-produced housing community in the remote peripheries of Paris.

As part of the school’s Totalization program, the design of the project hinges on a feasible structural concept. In this case, the structure is imagined as a caged crinoline skirt working in tension, with each hoop suspended from the tower’s original members with tension rods. The long spans between connection points, however, necessitated the additional use of a double truss. The thickness of the truss varies according to the span, which is determined by the tapering of the tower structure.
Architecturally, the hoops form an integrated ramp system that is both circulatory and programmatic. The ramp geometry describes two separate aspects: landscape and housing. These are expressed as separate rings within the ramping system, which come together regularly at pinch points to allow for interaction between three tiers: the landscape deck and the two housing decks below. The addition of landscape connects the project to the existing urban context of Les Berges – a linear park which reclaims the existing quayside along the river Seine. Les Berges provide a variety of programs, including an outdoor theatre, restaurants, bars, public artworks, floating gardens, and even rentable spaces for taking naps. The linear nature of these programs are replicated and wrapped around the tower. Following the Olympics, the housing portions of the project can be dismantled separately from the landscape deck, allowing the structure to be publicly accessible for a longer period of time.

Collaborators: Hannah Huff
Professors: Linna Choi, Tarik Oualalou