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Porte de Versailles: shimmering façade made of metal mesh

The Porte de Versailles exhibition center was constructed in 1923 and lies to the southwest of Paris in the 15th arrondissement. With eight exhibition halls and a total area of around 220,000 square meters, it is the second largest in France. In the course of an almost €500 million renovation and modernisation program, four halls are to be redesigned by French star architects Dominique Perrault, Christian de Portzamparc and Jean Nouvel. Dominique Perrault was awarded the order for the façade refurbishment of Pavilion 1. He chose a veil made of Escale metal mesh from GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG as the characteristic feature.

More than 1,600 events take place in Paris every year, including 420 international trade fairs that are open to the public. One of the best known consumer trade fairs, the Foire de Paris, has been held at the Porte de Versailles location since 1923. Following the extensive renovation work, the site now has eight exhibition halls, one convention center with 5,200 seats and a hotel with 440 rooms. Perrault was able to win the order for the façade refurbishment of the largest hall, the so-called Pavilion 1. The central element of his concept is the design of the main entrance to the trade fair with a shimmering veil of golden and silver metal mesh spirals. 3,300 square meters of Escale stainless steel mesh from GKD are a real eyecatcher along the façade, which measures over 200 meters. The individual mesh panels are each 13 meters wide and 14 meters high. The textile skin gets its special aesthetics from the refined yet random-looking colouring. Perrault chose this approach after realising that his original concept – a purely stainless steel façade – would not create enough dialog with sunlight due to its alignment. He therefore took the decision to apply a golden coating to one third of the metal spirals and then have these integrated in the mesh in a seemingly random pattern to imitate the rays of the sun. The metallic skin now shimmers in a different light depending on the viewing angle and engages with the surrounding environment. Although installed several meters in front of the actual façade, it encapsulates the wide entrance front like a delicate veil and is therefore also known as La Grande Voile.

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