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Modern architecture in Paris you should not miss

Architectours rounds up the must-see modern architecture in Paris you should not miss.

Paris, the Ville Lumiere (= The City of Light), is well known in the world for its monuments, museums and buildings. It was the birthplace of the Gothic style, and has important monuments of the French Renaissance, the Classical revival, and flamboyant style of the reign of Napoleon III; the Belle Époque, and the Art Nouveau style. 

Nowadays you kind find the design’s inspiration running through the city’s Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Rococo, Neo-Classical, Empire, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modern, Post-Modern, and Contemporary Architectures.

The Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame Cathedral, Montmartre, Arc de triomphe and his “twin” at La Defense, Champs-Élysées, the Grand Louvre, the Gare d’Orsay are its main landmarks. Two people are responsible for making Paris what it is today, and that is Emperor Napoléon III and Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann but a lot of great architects and architecture firms played their role.

Our selection of modern architecture in Paris:

Louis Vuitton Foundation, inaugurated in 2014, organizes major exhibitions in the extraordinary building designed by the visionary architect Frank Gehry. 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris

Modern architecture in Paris Louis Vuitton Foundation
Modern architecture in Paris Louis Vuitton Foundation

The Philharmonie by Ateliers Jean Nouvel is located in the Parc de la Villette at the northeastern edge of Paris in the 19th arrondissement, 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris. Aluminium panels swirl tightly around the structure and contrast with the rest of its matte exterior.

Modern architecture in Paris Philharmonie by Ateliers Jean Nouvel

The exterior features the images of 340,000 birds etched into the surface in seven different shapes and four shades ranging from light grey to black to symbolize a grand take-off. The rooftop, 37 metres high, will be open to the public and will give visitors an expansive view of the city blending into the suburbs.

Modern architecture in Paris Philharmonie by Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Musee du quai Branly by Ateliers Jean Nouvel 37 is a museum featuring the indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas Quai Branly, 75007 Paris

Modern architecture in Paris Musee du quai Branly by Ateliers Jean Nouvel

The main building is designed to appear lower than the buildings around it, and is largely screened from view by its gardens.

Modern architecture in Paris Musee du quai Branly by Ateliers Jean Nouvel

The shape of the main building follows the curve of the Seine, and the three administrative buildings are constructed to harmonize with the Haussmann-period buildings next to them

Modern architecture in Paris Musee du quai Branly by Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Maison La Roche, also Villa La Roche, the house designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in 1923–1925. Raoul La Roche was a Swiss banker and collector of avant-garde art. Maison . 10 Square du Dr Blanche, 75016 Paris

Modern architecture in Paris Maison La Roche

La Roche is now a museum containing about 8,000 original drawings, studies and plans by Le Corbusier.

Modern architecture in Paris Maison La Roche
Modern architecture in Paris Maison La Roche

Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication by Architects Francis Soler and Frédéric Druot 182 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris

Modern architecture in Paris Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

Architect Francis Soler wrapped both buildings (the first building was a classic Parisian beauty built in 1919, whilst the second was a simple office block dating back to 196) in one unifying façade: a stylish metal lattice. Striking yet unobtrusive, the façade cleverly unites the two offices in the most simple of ways.

Le Centre Pompidou by the architectural team of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini. Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris. It houses the Bibliothèque publique d’information (Public Information Library), a vast public library; the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe.

Modern architecture in Paris Le Centre Pompidou Renzo Piano Richard Rogers

With its structural system, mechanical systems, and circulation exposed on the exterior of the building Le Centre Pompidou, inaugurated in 1977, was the first major example of an ‘inside-out’ building in architectural history.

Modern architecture in Paris Le Centre Pompidou Renzo Piano Richard Rogers

Swiss pavilion designed by Le Courbusier between 1930–31 is located at the Cité Internationale Universitaire 7K Boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris

Swiss pavilion designed by Le Courbusier

The Swiss pavilion was designed to house the Swiss students and consists of a single storey part and a four-storey slab building on piers. The pavilion summarises Corbusier’s key ideas from the 1920s.

Swiss pavilion designed by Le Courbusier
Swiss pavilion designed by Le Courbusier

The Bibiothèque National de France by Dominique Perrault Architecture Quai François Mauriac, 75706 Paris

Bibiothèque National de France by Dominique Perrault

The design of the Bibiothèque National de France was recognized with the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture in 1996. Construction of the library ran into huge cost overruns and technical difficulties related to its high-rise design, so much so that it was referred to as the “Très Grande Bibliothèque” (=Very Large Library)

Bibiothèque National de France by Dominique Perrault
Bibiothèque National de France by Dominique Perrault Modern architecture in Paris

Institut du monde arabe by Ateliers Jean Nouvel is another of our Modern architecture in Paris you should not miss. 1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris.
The building was constructed from 1981 to 1987. The Architecture-Studio together with Jean Nouvel, won the 1981 design competition. The building acts as a buffer zone between the Jussieu Campus of Pierre and Marie Curie University and the Seine.

Institut du monde arabe by Ateliers Jean Nouvel Modern architecture in Paris

The southwest façade is an uncompromisingly rectangular glass-clad curtain wall. It faces a large square public space that opens in the direction of the Île de la Cité and Notre Dame. Visible behind the glass wall, a metallic screen unfolds with moving geometric motifs. The motifs are actually 240 photo-sensitive motor-controlled apertures.

Institut du monde arabe by Ateliers Jean Nouvel Modern architecture in Paris

Each apertures act as a sophisticated brise soleil that automatically opens and closes to control the amount of light and heat entering the building from the sun.

Hotel Molitor by Jean-Philippe Nuel 13 Rue Nungesser et Coli Paris.
The complex was built in 1929. It felt into disuse and closed in 1989. The pool is known for its Art Deco designs and the popular introduction of the bikini by Louis Réard on 5 July 1946. The swimming pool complex was rebuilt from scratch in the style of the previous design. The new complex includes two pools and a four star hotel a health center, and a medical center, as well as retail, restaurants, and parking facilities opened in May 2014.

Hotel Molitor by Jean-Philippe Nuel Modern architecture in Paris

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Not so far from the city center you can find Noisy-le-Grand a commune in the eastern suburbs that is worth a visit for its astonishing postmodernist architectures.

Among the modern architecture in Paris you should not miss, we can surely record Les Espaces d’Abraxas Clos des Aulnes 93160 Noisy-le-Grand by the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill founder of Taller de Arquitectura (RBTA) and the contemporary residential buildings of Les Arenes de Picasso 6 Place Pablo Picasso, 93160 Noisy-le-Grand by Spanish-French architect Manuel Nunez Yanowsky.

Les Espaces d’Abraxas Modern architecture in Paris
Les Espaces d’Abraxas Modern architecture in Paris

The three buildings of the complex deviate from the architectural brutalism typical of the modern movement, in favor of post-modern monumental eclecticism which is the peculiar stylistic code of the Catalan architect. The basic idea was to build a residential complex where the apartments were not just for cheap construction.

Les Espaces d’Abraxas Modern architecture in Paris

However, the complex has become yet another case of a project detached from reality. The three buildings that make it up, in the course of a few years, have been hit by decay, remaining isolated from the rest of the urban fabric and without adequate services and green spaces.

Les Espaces d’Abraxas Modern architecture in Paris


The property complex called Les Arenes de Picasso is organized around an octagonal square. Two axes, north-south and east-west, cross it. The two characteristic elements of the complex are two cylindrical buildings (nicknamed “pie charts” by the inhabitants). The perimeter of the square is entirely built, with the exception of its south side.

Les Arenes de Picasso Modern architecture in Paris
Les Arenes de Picasso Modern architecture in Paris

In the end, as someone said: “Paris is worth an…architectours” 😉

By |2019-01-07T19:29:25+00:00January 7th, 2019|

About the Author:

After thirteen years as Communications Manager for Valcucine, as well as a two-year stint at Driade, I felt the need to launch something fresh and original in the design and architecture world. A showroom, a trade fair or an advertisement are not enough to understand a brand, its underlying philosophies, and how it undergoes its product development, so I wanted to create a new way of connecting architects and interior designers with top design companies. Here I write news about architecture, interior design, industrial design, cultural heritage and our design and architecture tours.
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