Wednesday 22 January 2020

Paris's €240m 'umbrella' roof fails to keep out the rain

The socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo (AP)
The socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo (AP)

Henry Samuel in Paris

Paris town hall was left red-faced yesterday after it emerged that a vast, controversial leaf-shaped roof in central Paris covering a billion-euro commercial and cultural centre is leaking days after being inaugurated.

After almost five years of construction, the Canopy - a 2.5-hectare yellowish roof with 18,000 glass "shingles" in the heart of Paris - was officially opened by Anne Hidalgo, the French capital's Socialist mayor, last week.

The €240m roof covers the futuristic new Forum des Halle, comprising a media library, hip-hop centre and recording studio, an auditorium and a host of other cultural amenities.

But days after the inauguration of the space-age roof that one critic called "the biggest umbrella of all time", locals are complaining it is already failing in that most basic of functions - keeping the rain at bay. "Someone should tell the mayor of Paris this canopy is already leaking," said one passer-by.

Les Halles is a largely underground shopping mall once the site of a 10th-century food market, nicknamed 'The belly of Paris' by writer Emile Zola. When Emperor Napoleon III created a new market building at the site in the 1850s, he demanded "vast umbrellas and nothing more" made of "iron, iron, nothing but iron!"

Designed by architects Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti, the roof has already been described by a local heritage group as "an architectural absurdity, a piss-yellow awning that serves no purpose".

Irish Independent

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