Second Pompidou Centre goes east

Years ago, the Pompidou Center in Paris, France; was a watershed moment in architecture. Two young architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano designed a building which would change the way architects conceived buildings, and people envisaged them. When it opened, people hated it, but in just a few years it became the most loved modern building in Paris, and there are a lot of notable examples from that age.

The Guardian reports:


The Pompidou Centre is getting a little brother. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has designed a new €35.5m (£24.5m) outpost for the Parisian art gallery, which since 1977 has been a source of both delight and fury to artists and architects.

However, the second Pompidou won’t follow Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano’s controversial “inside-out” design scheme. All piping and air conditioning ducts will be safely hidden away. Instead, Ban and his collaborators, Jean de Gastines and Philip Gumuchdjian, have based their building on the shape of a Chinese hat.

“Shigeru came along with a hat, and said I’d really likely to make a roof out of this fascinating woven bamboo structure,” Gumuchdjian says. “The Pompidou Centre is surrounded by hard landscape. You’re in the middle of a city. We have a virgin site, so what we propose is to make the area around it as much like a park as possible, so our building becomes like a pavilion.”

Gumuchdjian says it took more than a year to get from the initial idea to a design that could realistically be constructed. Subject to planning permission, the new Pompidou will be constructed in the city of Metz in eastern France, and will open in 2008.

“In France, over the past 10 or 15 years, they’ve been pursuing a policy of decentralisation, and the Pompidou Centre, being a major cultural institution, wants to have its work out to the greater public, so going off to Metz is a brilliant idea.”

The elegantly curved roof is to be built out of timber, with a water barrier consisting of a translucent membrane coated in Teflon. It will shelter a trio of tubular galleries playing host to a continuous rota of exhibitions from the Parisian museum’s vast collection of modern art.

While the building itself will look nothing like the Pompidou in Paris, Gumuchdjian says he wants it to echo the ideals of openness and accessibility put forward by Rogers and Piano in the 1970s. “They came along and said, ‘we’re going to invite people into the building who don’t normally go into museums’. All those institutions were for the elite and the cultured. Richard and Renzo pushed the idea that this was a fun palace, a place for the people. We’re going for a reinterpretation of those ideals.”