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Mayne aims to light up Paris' skyscraper quarter - images

Thom Mayne and his California-based practice Morphosis have won planning approval for this futuristic skyscraper, called La Phare (the lighthouse).

Last year's Pritzker Prize winner was selected by an international jury for his outlandish design, as the French capital tries to revitalise its 'skyscraper quarter' in the La Défense region, 3km west of central Paris.

The 300m-high tower will be built amid a relatively modest collection of skyscrapers and, when completed in 2012, will stand just 20m shorter than Gustav Eiffel's famous tower - although the two are some distance apart.

Mayne's scheme is being backed by property group Unibail, which is said to have asked for something that would make a 'resolute break' from tradition as well as provide a model of sustainable development.

The asymmetric scheme will provide 130,000m 2of office space and is topped by a 'forest' of giant wind-generating turbines.

La Phare follows hot on the heels of another major development in La Défense, La Tour Generali, designed by French practice Valode et Pistre, and the schemes will transform the relatively low-rise Paris skyline.

The revitalisation of the district is being orchestrated by French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is likely to run in next year's French presidential elections and hopes to keep the area in the same league as large development areas in other cities, such as London's Docklands.

by Richard Vaughan

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