Architecture in France
Diriger aux Bâtiments de Francais
We've selected what we feel are the key examples of French Architecture. We aim to include buildings that are either of top quality or interesting, or ideally both.
We cover completed buildings, new building designs, architectural exhibitions and architecture competitions across France. The focus is on contemporary French buildings but information on traditional buildings is also welcome.
We have 6 pages of French Architecture selections with links to hundreds of individual project pages.
French Architecture : news + main cities A-K (this page)
French Architecture Designs : main cities L-Z
French Buildings : A-F
French Building Developments : G-L
French Building Designs : M-R
French Architecture Developments : S-Z
French Architecture News
Architecture News for France arranged chronologically:
Presqu’ile de Caen Redevelopment, north west France - exclusive to e-architect
image from architects
Caen Masterplan - 2 May 2013
La Grande Mosaique, MVRDV selected to transform 600ha former industry in Caen, Normandy. SPLA, the public development agency for the transformation of the Presqu’ile de Caen, has chosen MVRDV out of 3 competitors to transform the 600ha area consisting of former industry and ports. The MVRDV plan envisions the future of Caen Presqu’ile as a collection of gardens surrounded by intensified urban area. It envisions Caen as attractive city with a connection to the sea whilst interventions improve landscape, environment, mobility and connections. The project is planned to last ten years or longer.
Drulingen Family Creche, near Strasbourg, eastern France
Design: Fluor Architecture
image from architect
Drulingen Family Creche - 1 May 2013
The family creche is both a living space where the children thrive and a workplace for the staff. The building is the set for this environment in every aspects and needs but also in its poetical dimension.
Tourrette Levens Childcare Center, Alpes – Maritimes, southern France
Design: Heams & Michel Architectes
photo : Serge Demailly
Tourrette Levens Childcare Center - 30 Apr 2013
The new building includes a family day care of three units with a kitchen and communal facilities. The areas of the nursery will be managed by the SIVOM Val de Banquière and the communal premises by the municipality. The access to each part of the program must be distinct. The dye is cast, it is a mix of program and management in a single project.
EuropaCity, Paris / Roissy, northern France
image from architect
EuropaCity France - 17 Apr 2013
The new urban center EuropaCity is located between Paris and Roissy in France’s most populated region Île-de-France. EuropaCity will offer a mixture of retail, culture and leisure on an unprecedented scale around the defining theme of the European urban experience, diversity and culture. The winning team was selected among proposals from Manuelle Gautrand, Snøhetta and Valode & Pistre.
Higher Education and University Center in Le Havre, northern France
Design: Baumschlager Eberle
photo : Sebastien Morel
Ecoles - Université Le Havre - 15 Apr 2013
The building is made of two twin elements, side by side, centralizing three establishments: the campus of Sciences-Politiques for undergrad education and the two schools SPI (Sciences for engineers) and INSA-Civil engineering. The architects eventually proposed to group together the three institutions in two different entities unified in one single building.
Annecy Congress Center, south east France
image : Snøhetta - MOKA - MIR
Annecy Congress Center France - 11 Apr 2013
he area is part of an outdoor area between the cities and the lake, which is frequently used for recreation and sports. The intention of the project is to strengthen the connection between the two cities, through an establishment of a new canal and bridge.
INRA Research Laboratory, Nancy
Design: Tectoniques Architectes
photo © Renaud Araud
INRA Research Laboratory - 3 Apr 2013
The Champenoux site in the Lorraine region is one of the five sites of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Agronomic Research Institute) in France. Located in the immense forest of Amance, it has added a new laboratories and offices building on the existing site.
Refuge du Goûter, Saint Gervais Les Bains, south east France
Design: Déca-Laage + Groupe-H
photo : Gudrun Bergdahl
Alps Building in France - 2 Apr 2013
To withstand the winds, we studied fluids mechanics and the aerodynamic properties of the exterior structure. Our research on convex structures lead us to decide on an el-lipse form, which, once projected into three dimensions, became a spheroid. The prin-cipal axis of the ellipse was placed facing the prevailing winds in order to deposit the snow in a snow melter at the back of the refuge.
The Beam, Villeneuve d'Ascq, north east France
picture © MVRDV
Villeneuve d’Ascq Masterplan
MVRDV win Competition with ‘The Beam’, Marking the Urban Renewal of Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. Development corporation ADIM Nord with MVRDV and de Alzua+ have been announced the winners of an urban renewal competition in the French town of Villeneuve d’Ascq, beating four other entries. An iconic building, The Beam, will hover over the motorway signalling urban renewal and acting as visual reference point for the town’s centre.
Le Temps Machine, Joué-le-Tours, north west France
Design: Moussafir Architectes
photo © Hervé Abbadie
The Time Machine France - 21 Mar 2013
An unusual conversion iof an existing building: the architects suggested maintaining the patio and some significant fragments of the structure, including that of the concert hall – an identity-shaping element of the old building. Highly prominent on the facade, this prow-like form once contained the audience seating. Today it houses a 150-strong cabaret-style space (the Club), while the Grand Hall for a standing audience of 650 is placed right behind it, with rehearsal rooms tucked below the Grand Hall.
Vieux Port Pavilion, Marseille, southern France
Design: Foster + Partners
photo : Nigel Young
Vieux Port Pavilion Marseille - 5 Mar 2013
The new events pavilion is a simple, discreet canopy of highly reflective stainless steel, 46 by 22 metres in size, open on all sides and supported by slender pillars. Its polished, mirrored surface reflects the surrounding port and tapers towards the edges, minimising its profile and reducing the structure’s visual impact.
Lycée René Goscinny, Alpes-Maritimes, south east France
Design: José Morales architecte
photo : Philippe Ruault
Lycée René Goscinny - 22 Feb 2013
The project site is part of an already settled area where valleys have been deeply sculpted by water over time. The building has been designed to reflect the story of that environment and seeks to tie in with all of these interwoven rich territories. It nestles into the land by unfolding on the slope along the dry-stone walls adding a new chapter to this region’s history; one that reflects its natural background, its constraints and its identity.
Campus of University Saint-Charles, Montpellier
Design: Hellin-Sebbag Architectes
photograph © Hellin-Sebbag, photo Benoît Wehrlé
Campus of University Saint-Charles - 8 Feb 2013
'Transparency, light and ease of movement'
Conversion of a seventeenth-century hospital and listed building into a university with the modern functionality that a university requires. In a second phase, the Aile des Incurables, on the same site, will be converted into a Maison des Sciences de l'Homme and a department of archaeology.
Strasbourg - Kehl Zollhofareal, France / Germany - international competition win
image from architects
Strasbourg - Kehl Zollhofareal Competition - 7 Feb 2013
Since the early 2000s the two cities have been reinforcing their ties in a process aiming to establish a European transborder metropolis along the Rhine River. The design proposal is at the same time a vision to reunite the two cities/countries around the river and a framework for the urbanization of the site.
New Law Courts of Caen, north west France
Design: BE Hauvette Paris and Atelier d’Architecture Pierre Champenois
image from architects
New Law Courts of Caen - 22 Jan 2013
Concerning urbanistic planning, the law courts of Caen redefines a new domain in the centre of the City. The design of BE Hauvette Paris and Atelier d’Architecture Pierre Champenois for this public building was recently presented to the public. It comes with a quadratic shape which comprises several duties and responsibilities: The cube underlines by its form the importance of jurisdiction by the means of architecture.
International Cave Painting Centre, Dordogne, France
image from architect
International Cave Painting Centre in France - 12 Dec 2012
The Conseil Général de la Dordogne (France) recently organized a competition for the construction of Lascaux IV, a complete scale replica of the Lascaux cave, at Montignac, at the foot of the hill where the actual cave is situated.
Louvre Lens Museum, France - building news
Sanaa / Imrey Culbert / Catherine Mosbach
photograph © Hisao Suzuki
Louvre Lens Museum - new photos 12 Dec 2012
New photos of this major building - refined but rather austere architecture - redolent of the simple volumes of Mies van der Rohe (eg National Gallery Berlin or Crown Hall) but in a very light style, finely detailed. But when compared with say the Pompidou's sojourn into the countryside (the rather bizarre Centre Pompidou-Metz by Shigeru Ban) this building, especially the opaque facades, has moments of dullness. A little more Joie de vivre would have been welcome!
Dijon Mustard Lab, eastern France
photo : MVRDV
Dijon Building - 12 Jul 2012 - award 11 Dec 2012
MVRDV has completed transformation of a disused Dijon Mustard laboratory into an large call centre - 600 work spaces - with an education centre, incubator and social program. For these Dutch architects it represents an "exemplary project" : transformation through reuse is one of the contemporary issues in European architecture since the current crisis.
European International Trade Centre, Lorraine, north east France
Design: McAdam Architects
image from architects
European International Trade Centre - 27 Nov 2012
The European International Trade Centre Terra Lorraine (ITEC) is a 6m sqm retail & logistics complex. The trading city will comprise up to 3 million sqm of flexible retail space including 4 expo halls of 250,000sqm, hotels and accommodation for 40,000 visitors and staff, 500,000sqm of logistic storage, and a new customs clearance terminal. A new passenger railway and goods rail connections are planned.
Lons le Saunier Médiathèque & Cinémas, eastern France
Design: Du Besset-Lyon Architectes
photograph © Philippe Ruault
Lons le Saunier Médiathèque - 23 Nov 2012
Next to the mediathèque, three existing buildings - the church, the Hotel de Balay and the wall of the prison - formed an impressive and severe urban setting made up of simple lines, great mineral surfaces and imposing masses. Unfortunately, the relation that these three constructions maintain could not be experienced from the street. Obviously, a new building, a fourth element, was needed to open and liven up the urban structure.
French Building - Recent Designs
Music School Louviers, Normandy, northern France
Design: Opus 5
photograph : Luc Boegly
Music School Louviers - 17 Sep 2012
The antique convent of the Penitents, in the city center of Louviers - Normandy, is a very exceptional example of "cloister on water", made of a complex assembly of successive constructions.
Villa Théoule sur Mer, Cote d'Azur, French Riviera, south of France
Design: 4a Architekten
photograph : 4a Architekten
Residence in Théoule sur Mer - 17 Aug 2012
The contract won by 4a Architekten from Stuttgart to redesign a villa with listed-building status in Théoule offers wonderful prospects. Built in 1926, the building is not only impressive because of its splendid location on the French Riviera, but is also something special with regard to its history: The Villa Le Trident is the first of numerous villas built and resided in by the American architect Barry Dierks on the coast of the Mediterranean.
maison L, Yvelines, northern France
photo : George Dupin
maison L Yvelines - 2 Jul 2012
RIBA Awards 2012 Winner
The brief suggested the L-shaped general plan and the use of an indigenous stone for retaining walls. But it did not suggest half burying a series of interconnecting cave-like rooms, nor the five three-storey board-marked concrete towers that poke out of the rockery roof. This is where the genius of the architect comes in.
Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine, MÉCA, Bordeaux, south west France
Design: BIG + FREAKS freearchitects
image from architects
MÉCA Bordeaux - 20 Jun 2012
Team BIG+FREAKS freearchitects, dUCKS scéno, Khephren Ingénierie, VPEAS, ALTO Ingénierie, Vincent Hedont, PBNL, Mryk & Moriceau, Ph.A wins the competition to design a new 12 000 m2 cultural center on the riverfront of Bordeaux, merging three cultural institutions into one single building.
We've selected what we feel are the major French Buildings, in chronological order:
Eiffel Tower, Paris (1889)
Villa Savoie, Poissy (1929)
Villa Stein, Garches (1927)
Unité d'Habitation, Marseille (1952)
Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp (1955)
Maisons Jaoul, Neuilly-sur-Seine (1956)
La Tourette Monastery, Lyon (1957)
Pompidou Centre, Paris (1976)
The Pantheon, Paris (1790)
The Louvre Museum Pyramid, Paris (1989)
Arab du Monde lnstitute, Paris (1988)
Carré d'Art, Nîmes (1993)
Millau Viaduct, Gorge du Tarn (2005)
Comments on the French architecture selection welcome. These French buildings are not selected due to their fame - we've left out the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe - but because each in its way achieved a milestone and signified strong creative achievement.
French Office Buildings
Contemporary French Architecture - Key Developments
Arranged by city / area alphabetically - with the French capital first
Key French Buildings, in Paris:
French Architecture welcome: