New Pompidou centre for France

 The centre, with 6,000 sq. metres of display space and housing permanent and temporary exhibitions, has been designed by Shigeru Ban Architects of Tokyo in association with Jean de Gastines (Paris) and Gumuchdjian Architects (London).

The new centre in Metz is expected to open up access for people from across Europe to the exceptional scope and quality of the collections from the Musee National d’ Art Moderne presently housed in the Pompidou Centre in Paris, popularly known as Centre Beaubourg. Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the six-storey Paris building, opened in 1977, houses a modern art gallery and a centre for industrial design. Display space has been maximised by placing all services on the outside of the transparent exterior walls.

Named after Pompidou

Both the Pompidou centres are named after French statesman Georges Pompidou, who served as prime minister in the 1960s and later (1969-74) became President of the country.

The architects describe the Metz Pompidou Centre project as “providing a new type of public institution that can grow and transform itself according to climate or occasion.”
Institution in its own right

During a presentation last year, it was made clear that the centre would not be an annexe to the Pompidou Centre in Paris but a sister institution in its own right.

Construction of the Metz centre is co-financed by the French state, the European Union, the Lorraine Regional Council and the Moselle Department.

Following the decision to build the Pompidou Centre in Metz, an international design competition was launched in March 2003 which attracted 157 architects.  In December 2003, the Shigeru Ban team was officially awarded the design contract. The final draft of the design was presented in June 2005, and the tendering process then began for the construction and services.

The new Pompidou Centre is a large, hexagonal structure with three exhibition galleries running through the building. A central spire will reach up 77 metres, alluding to the 1977 opening of the original centre in Paris.

Three rectangular, climate-controlled, cantilevered tubes, each 80 metres long and 15 metres wide, will form the basis of the three pillarless galleries for the permanent collection, and will be so sited as to frame views of the city’s monuments. Viewed as a whole, the architecture evokes a vast marquee surrounded by a square and garden.

Inside the building, the general atmosphere will be light, with a pale wood roof, white-painted walls and floors in pearl-grey polished concrete.

The centre’s most interesting feature will be the PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) roof - a huge, translucent, hexagonal lattice membrane thrown over and covering the entire complex. Inspiration for this structure is said to have come from the traditional Chinese woven bamboo hat called ‘muak kui’.

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