When we visualize the imposing Iron Lady, whose nickname leaves no doubt about its main material, we imagine an astronomical weight for the whole structure. The Grande Arche de la Défense could easily be lighter, with this immense void in its center where the wind rushes. Let’s go back a bit to the measurements of these two famous monuments. The Eiffel Tower, emblem of the Capital, was inaugurated in 1889, on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition which celebrated the first centenary of the French Revolution. Its second floor is served by five elevators, some 2,500,000 rivets were used in its construction, as well as 18,038 pieces of iron. The Iron Lady’s steel frame alone weighs 7,300 tonnes!
With all this, the Eiffel Tower rises to 330 m high, with the antenna, 312 m without. Next door, from the height of its 110.9 m, the Grande Arche de la Défense does not bear its name very well… Inaugurated exactly one hundred years later, in 1989, it was designed by the Danish architect Johan Otto von Spreckelsen. As surprising as it may seem, the Ark is not a perfect cube…within 3 cm! Indeed, it is 106.9 m wide and 112 m long. Admittedly, the Eiffel Tower towers over the Grande Arche de la Défense, but we must give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. And here is some information on the emblematic monument of La Défense that should amaze you: the void that constitutes its center could contain the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris!
In terms of materials, the Arch of the business district is made of prestressed concrete, steel, glass and granite. At the time of construction, instead of granite, Carrara marble was installed, the same as that used by Michelangelo for his works! This material which made up the north and south facades of the monument was too porous, so it was replaced by granite in the 2000s. Another anecdote concerning the structure of the Arche de la Défense: each glass plate which covers its structure 5cm thick. And it is here, in the choice of construction materials, that the balance of sensationalism once again leans in favor of the Altosecan monument… The weight of the Grand Arche de la Défense exceeds 300,000 tons, while the Eiffel Tower weighs only “that” 10,100 tons.