Exploring The Eiffel Tower's Aesthetic

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Img-00 by techgnotic

In a sense, the Eiffel Tower was created purely for the sake of making a tall tower.

The impetus for designing the tower in the first place was an upcoming world’s fair, to be held in Paris in 1889 — the centennial of the French Revolution. The tower was to be a centerpiece for the upcoming fair, and it was meant to be a temporary structure, with an intended lifespan of twenty years.

The Eiffel Tower is now a prominent national symbol for France and basically the quintessential icon of Paris as a city. The tower itself is what you might call a French cliché at this point, and more than a few prominent travel journalists such as Anthony Bourdain have remarked upon the uselessness of actually climbing the tower. One can understand why: it involves waiting in a long queue, purchasing tickets, and waiting in more queues. While it does ultimately result in a very striking view of Paris (if you choose to ride the lifts to the top), going up the tower requires appropriating at least a few hours that could’ve otherwise been spent drinking wine on the left bank or trying your best elementary French in a quaint café.

Having visited myself, I must lend my voice to the chorus that advises you not to enter the tower. But with that being said, I do highly recommend ogling it from the comfort of a patch of grass on the Champs de Mars, or from across the Seine at the Jardins du Trocadero. Because even though climbing it is overrated, the structure itself leaves an impression on one’s mind that can’t be replicated by any photograph or video. What’s missing from most iconography of the tower is the sheer size and perceived strength of the thing. It often looks quaint and unassuming in films or photos, but in person it’s actually domineering. It’s tall and massive. A number of prominent artists and architects actually protested its construction on these grounds after the project had begun.

It comes down to a matter of personal taste in the end, but one way the tower has proven its aesthetic value is simply by lasting as long as it has. The tower has, at varying points, been scheduled for deconstruction or demolition, but it has never happened. Even the Nazi commander in charge of Paris toward the end of WWII couldn’t bring himself to destroy the tower despite being ordered to do so by Hitler directly.

Even though it is a glorified lawn ornament in some ways, the tower was not designed without some functional considerations. In fact, the tower’s lead architect, Gustave Eiffel, said in an interview that wind resistance was one of his primary concerns when designing the tower. The tower virtually does not sway in the wind.

As it gets older, the tower does have to adapt to its time.

Of course it’s been repainted, repaired, and adorned with light and fireworks displays at various times throughout its history, but now it seems that France’s most identifiable icon is coming into the twenty-first century in proper form by having a number of sustainability-related improvements made. The first are wind turbines designed by Urban Green Energy. The firm has a unique turbine design that, much like the tower itself, doesn’t skimp on aesthetics. These turbines have been installed on the interior of the tower, where they’re barely noticeable to the outside viewer. They will produce about 10,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year — enough to offset the energy used by the tower’s 4,200-square-meter first level pavilion.

Next, plans are in motion to install rainwater collection cisterns, energy-efficient LED lights, and solar panels. In terms of energy consumption it must be said that these improvements represent something like a drop in a very large bucket. But it’s in keeping with the tower’s somewhat superfluous nature that it be used more as a representative icon than a radical leader of the charge toward sustainable energy. These improvements shine a conspicuous spotlight on renewable energy, and with luck others around the world will take note.

It’s admirable that the tower is getting these improvements, and it’s equally laudable that those responsible for overseeing the project are committed to the tower’s aesthetic integrity. The Eiffel Tower’s turbines prove that the energy sources of the coming age don’t have to be bland or difficult to look at. The Eiffel Tower is and remains an inspirational example for those who are hoping to marry form and function in their work.

Your Thoughts

  1. Have you visited the Eiffel Tower? How would you describe your experience if so? If not, would you like to someday see it?
  2. What do you think other famous icons around the world would look like with sustainable energy sources? Tell us what you envision or, better yet, show us your deviations that depict these structures and post a link in the comments section.
  3. What are your thoughts on form and function, especially where things like architecture and renewable energy are concerned? Given the grave consequences climate change may have, should we be thinking of aesthetics at all as we develop new sources of energy? Or can we always find a way to make these two walk hand-in-hand?

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annakoutsidou's avatar
Thank you so much for the feature , really beautiful journal ! :iconbouquetplz:
Simina31's avatar
Thank you so much for featuring my work in this amazing collection. Really interesting article, by the way :)
ponyfleute's avatar
themeepynerd's avatar
I don't always read these, but this was interesting
JACAC's avatar
i . s a w . i t . f r o m ... Postcard from Paris 16 by JACAC  
Xanofar's avatar
I don't remember the long lines so much as I remember the long walk up the stairs... oh, and a lot of Otis (the elevator company) posters talking about how great Otis elevators are and occasionally providing interesting trivia.

By the way, there's a bathroom at the top. So it's kind of cool being able to say you went to the bathroom at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Is your art on Tribe art app? bit.ly/DownloadTribe

I'd love to follow you on it!
Rafa-Oliveir4's avatar
ebellyjelassi's avatar
i've visited the tower several times, at different times of the year, and always find it beautiful.  i love it!
myExtraordinarymind's avatar
Love it so much 😍😍
xandraclay's avatar
I want to go!:France: 
damphyr's avatar
I visited the tower once, and having a rather crippling fear of heights, it took quite an act of courage just to get into the elevator to the top. I, foolishly, thought that was going to be the worst of it... but boy was I wrong. I watched the city slooowly drop through the window of the elevator as it climbed... and then a thick wall of cement came between us and the world. That was fine, less reason to panic, right? Then we climbed past the block, I watched the world so far down and moving further away, and had the cement there to make me even more aware of the movement... and my knees buckled. :XD: Classmates had to keep me upright.

After that, we got to the top and the darn tower was swaying! :faint: I stepped out, looked around and dove back into the elevator. I wish I'd been able to enjoy the view from the top more, but I have to say that, personally, I find the tower all lit up at night is far more fun to view than the city from the top of the tower.

Gorgeous images, brings back fond if not incredibly nervous memories!
dxd's avatar
I was in Paris last weekend and we visited the Eiffel Tower at night, it's certainly an impressive thing to be near. Shame they have copyrighted the lighting display, I'd love to post some of the pictures I took.
ewm's avatar
I've been to the Eiffel tower once and it was amazing! The view from it is so spectacular. It was quite the eventful evening. Apparently some guy who was part of an advertising firm sneaked some jumping gear and proceeded to jump off the top of the tower. Unfortunately his parachute got caught on a part of the tower and he ended up hanging himself. Part of my group was stuck on the tower while the police handled the situation.
Ikue's avatar
I've never had the opportunity to visit but it's definitely on my bucket list of places to visit. Such an inspiring collection.
godofodd's avatar
What a stunning collection on this topic. I've always loved the tower for its design. I have never been, but maybe one day I'll get to see it in person. I love structures like this. We can build some amazing things and I always like to see what someone comes up with next. 
countessphantomhive1's avatar
Wow that is quite amazing
NAK246's avatar
I'm going to Quebec at spring break. That looks awesome! Is that oil paint?
TheJokerman95's avatar

And I Visited the structrure...TWICE over the course of a year!

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