Construction is nearly complete on Centre Pompidou-Metz, an incredible new extension of the original Centre Pompidou modern art museum in Paris. Designed by architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines, the elegantly sloping structure takes inspiration from the technical properties of Chinese hats and bridges. The building is topped with a curvaceous roof that does a remarkable job of shielding it from the elements while opening up an expansive volume of space dedicated to the arts.
Although the building’s structure may strike some as an awkward compilation of odd forms, Centre Pomidou-Metz is a very well thought out piece of architecture. Ban and Gastines designed the building to have a “superstructure” — a curving roof made of wooden hexagonal units supported by a central metallic spire and four conical pillars. The large surface area of this signature roof element covers a collection of interior spaces where three galleries unite. The glue-laminated timber mesh resembles the cane-work pattern and technical properties of a Chinese hat. The mesh is highly resilient, requires minimal support, and it is coated in a waterproof membrane made of white fiberglass and Teflon. This structure creates a naturally temperate environment, which ensures that works of art are conserved in the best possible conditions.
The building’s interior consists of three long rectangular galleries that join together at different levels through techniques commonly used for bridge building. At several points, the narrow galleries jut through the roof to provide window space for expansive views of the city. The architects fostered a light and airy ambience indoors by utilizing pale light wood, white walls and pearl-grey polished concrete. A large atrium welcomes visitors indoors and encourages gathering, while the exterior of the building features a terrace and two sculpture gardens. The gardens are landscaped with grassy folds that enable rainwater control and numerous paths that provide pedestrian access to downtown areas and the TVG high speed electric train station.
The building projects concepts developed from the original Centre Pomidou, but indeed it’s no replica. The original Centre Pomidou opened in 1977 and was designed as part of the high-tech architecture movement by architects Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers. The facility houses the Musee National d’Art Moderne — the largest modern art museum in Europe. The only reference made by Centre Pomidou-Metz to its Parisian counterpart is found in the extension’s central spire, which rises 77m above ground — the year that the original Pompidou opened.
The new Metz facility provides wider access to the Musee National d’Art Moderne’s collection with approximately 54,034 square feet of exhibition space. The new facility also includes an auditorium, café and restaurant, a bookshop-boutique, resource center and plenty of public space.