Primavera - Printemps Department Stores - Expo Paris 1925

Primavera - Printemps Department Stores at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1925
Architect(s) : Sauvage et Wybo

The Printemps department stores have entrusted Messrs Sauvage and Wybo, architects, with the task of designing the "Primavera" pavilion, where the new products of their art studio are exhibited.

This pavilion is in the form of a vast truncated cone-shaped umbrella, supported by an octagonal base. It is the result of many different studies. The pavilion had to fit into a very strict framework imposed by the administration. In order to occupy as much space as possible, the architects were forced to fill the entire template as a last resort. The result is a very simple envelope and it is only the richness of the materials used that gives this pavilion its value.

Indeed, all the bases are made of vitrified cement by Mr. Seailles, of which we have already seen a first application in the swimming pool of Printemps, at the Salon d'Automne. These cement appliques are decorated with gold filaments embedded in the mass and crowned by a cornice in black and gold sandstone mosaic by Messrs Gentil and Bourdet.

The reinforced concrete roof, lined with straw at the bottom to keep the premises cool in summer, is covered with large cast glass lenses, made by Lalique, which give the impression of large pebbles when they are still wet from the sea. The general tone of these pebbles varies from light buff to opal. In the evening, carefully concealed fireplaces of light shine on the facades and roof of this luxurious pavilion.

The enormous wrought iron sign above the entrance door completes the façade.

The framework, built by Messrs Perret frères, consists of a dome with a diameter of 20 metres at the base, resting on a system of beams on eight posts.

This dome is intersected between the two posts, at the entrance door, to form a portico covered by a sort of veranda.

Apart from the rather unusual shape of this construction, its main particularity lies in its foundations.

This octagonal ensemble is, in fact, located almost entirely above the trench of the Invalides station, whose metal decking, eaten away by the acid fumes of the locomotives, could not be considered strong enough to support it.

The pavilion had to rest on three cast iron columns of the station and on the retaining wall bordering the trench and maintaining the median of the Quai d'Orsay roadway. It was not even possible to rest on this median, which had been subject to settling as a result of the floods.

As a result, it was necessary to create a reinforced concrete beam structure supported by the three columns and the crest of the wall, and carrying the posts of the pavilion in cantilevered fashion on either side of their supports (see the drawing at the top of the previous page).

The feet of the eight pavilion posts are themselves joined by a belt of beams forming the base of the perimeter walls.

©La Science et la Vie - 1925