C42 Citroen showroom, Champs Elysees

We popped in to have a look around the intriguing glass building on Avenue des Champs Elysees and were slightly surprised to find a 60 metre helter-skelter slide in the middle of the showroom.  To get to the top, you are meant to walk up the stairs and stop to appreciate and covet the cars on each floor, but we took advantage of the lift.  The ride down was much more fun and memorable so as to make sure you tell your friends about C42 having something more enjoyable and for everybody than new cars.

citroen street  citroen3   citroen toboggan  citroen Manuelle-Gautrand

The architect, Manuelle Gautrand, and the completely revamped showroom with unusual slide feature http://www.citroenet.org.uk/miscellaneous/champselysees/paris-showroom.html

The glass façade design at C42 was intended to look like a strong corporate totem and reinforce Citroen’s iconic logo of 2 simple chevrons pointing upwards.  I think it is very effective and appears to convey the brand’s desired image extremely well in 2015 and for another decade.  The architect was Manuelle Gautrand, a French woman who is becoming known for daring modern designs and large conversion projects.

citroen concept sketch 2 citroen concept sketch 3 citroen concept sketch 4

Concept sketches show Citroen’s ambitions for their new Communication Centre  http://www.e-architect.co.uk/paris/c42-citreon

Faceted mirrors above the cars fragment reflections and bounce light/colours around as happens with crystals and precious stones.  The vehicles look expensive and desirable in this most modern of car showrooms.  Everything is incredibly shiny and angular, unlike the more conventionally curvaceous Mercedes-Benz showroom just up the road.  This seems to be a feature of the bulk of Gautrand’s designs.  Also, natural light enters the building from several directions and is enhanced with mirrors and white walls.  The Mercedes-Benz entrance was much darker, spot-lit cars on podiums and attempted to seduce viewers with a sultry kind of lighting common in the late 1990s.  Compared to C42, it is definitely dated and contributes nothing of significance to the carmaker’s image.

citroen fragments citroen mirrors citroen light

Light reflective qualities of C42


Manuelle Gautrand qualified in 1985, set up her Lyon architecture firm in 1991 and moved to Paris in 1993.  Throughout her career, she has done much teaching in universities around the world and still gives workshops.  She has been responsible for a good variety of projects around the world and has designed buildings for big business, culture/entertainment, airports, homes, universities and small offices.  In a 2013 interview, she comments on a series of art, design and architectural projects with the theme of ‘Movement’ chosen by Grand Palais.  It’s in French but she speaks very clearly about how some of the designs depict different ideas of movement using water or faceted glass. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d61–CsGzC4


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