The elegant, tapering signature of the Eiffel Tower is to be reshaped, altering the skyline of Paris, in time for the structure’s 120th anniversary next year, the SociÃ©tÃ© d’exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (Sete) has just announced.
Serero Architects of Paris has won the competition to redesign the structure’s public viewing platform and reception areas. The winning design, which will be 276 metres (905ft) above the ground, will not require any permanent modification of the existing structure. It will double the capacity of the public viewing area on the tower’s top floor.
The new platform will be bolted onto the tower using a web of Kevlar, an extremely strong and lightweight carbon fibre used in the construction of racing cars and body armour. The new platform will use a cantilevered design similar to the way that an aircraft’s wings are attached to the fuselage.
The design is already causing controversy, with critics questioning the wisdom of tinkering with the famous silhouette and spending money on upgrading a tourist attraction which attracts 6.9 million visitors a year.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Sete explained that the plan to restructure the top of the tower aims to increase the quality of access. Average waiting times for the tower’s elevators currently run at more than an hour at peak times.
Gustave Eiffel designed the tower as a temporary structure for the 1889 World’s Fair. Initially rejected by the French public, it is now the most visited fee-charging monument in the world.