Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers: Centre Pompidou, Paris, France - 1971 - 1977

Under the rules of the competition, the architectural project had to meet the criteria of interdisciplinarity, freedom of movement and flow, and an open approach to exhibition areas. 

At the time of the competition the area (situated in the centre of historic Paris, within one kilometre of the Notre Dame and the Louvre, and on the edge of the densely populated medieval quarter) was in crisis. The neighbouring Les Halles, which had housed Paris's principal food market for generations, was in the process of demolition, to be replaced by a large commercial development and major public transport interchange. 

A million square foot cultural centre to consist of four major specialist activities: museum of modern art, a reference library, centre for industrial design and a centre for music and acoustic research. Areas for office administration, book shops, restaurants, cinemas, children's activities and car parking were also to be included.

The competition was won by two young architects: the Italian Renzo Piano and British designer Richard Rogers who proposed a constraint-free architecture in the spirit of the 1960s. The supporting structure and movement and flow systems, such as the escalators, were relegated to the outside of the building, thereby freeing up interior space for museum and activity areas. Colour-coded ducts are attached to the building's west fašade, as a kind of wrapping for the structure: blue for air, green for fluids, yellow for electricity cables and red for movement and flow. 

The transparency of the west main fašade allows people to see what is going on inside the centre from the piazza, a vast esplanade that the architects conceived of as an area of continuity, linking the city and the centre. The centre quickly fell victim to the unexpected scale of its success. With some seven million visitors per year, the building aged prematurely and had to close in October 1997 for 27 months. During this time 70,000 m▓ were renovated and 8,000 m▓ added, mainly to display collections. This was possible by relocating the offices outside the centre. When it reopened on 1 January 2000, the centre was an immediate, overwhelming public success again, testifying to the public's inseparable attachment to the site and its spirit.

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Source: Centre Pompidou