Paris (4)

The Eiffel Tower in its original context: the 1889 World Fair


The Champ de Mars was originally part of the agricultural plains west of Paris, and its transformation began when the Military School was built in 1865 ; its role was to serve as a training ground between the School and the Seine river. Under the Revolution the Champ de Mars is the scene of many festivities and executions, a symbolic role reinforced under Napoleon’s regime. In 1867, 1878, 1889, 1900 and 1937 this space hosts world fairs.

The Eiffel tower is built for the 1889 world fair, marking the centennial of the Revolution as an opportunity to show the technological progress of France with a 300 m high tower. This exhibition role is later amplified by radio and television broadcasting stations and radars, taking advantage of its dominant position over the Parisian plain.

The Palais de Chaillot , with its two curved wings on top of the hill that overlooks the Champ de Mars from the northern shore, was built for the 1937 world fair. The esplanade between the two wings allows for good view of the Eiffel tower and the Champ de Mars.

A series of successive initiatives without a master plan has given as a result one of the most symbolic spaces in the world. The quality of each project, the chance that at the end of the concession term of the tower there was not an expedient decision to demolish it, the persistence of the world fairs site as a public space are just by change and do not result from a single project, but the result shows a powerful formal quality.

The Palais de Chaillot and the Tour Eiffel

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