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Grande Arche

The Grande Arche de la Fraternité is a monument in the business district of La Défense to the west of Paris. It is usually known as simply La Grande Arche.

It is the work of Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen, designed to be a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe: a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than military victories.

The Arche is almost a perfect cube (width: 108m, height: 110m, depth: 112m). It has a pre-stressed concrete frame covered with glass and Carrara marble from Italy.

It was built by the French civil engineering company Bouygues.

Inaugurated in 1989, it completes the line of monuments that forms the Axe historique running through Paris. The Arche is turned at an angle of 6.33° on this axis, a peculiarity which has been explained by several theories. In particular the architect is said to have wanted to emphasise the depth of the monument, while the specific angle was chosen to create symmetry with the similarly-skewed Louvre at the other end of the Axe. However, it seems the most important reason was mundanely technical. With a metro station, an RER station and a motorway all situated directly underneath the Arche, the angle was the only way to accommodate the structure's giant foundations.

The two sides of the Arche house government offices. The roof section is an exhibition centre. The vertical structure visible in the photograph is the lift scaffolding. Panoramic lifts rise up from the ground, giving an astonishing view over Paris.

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