A Unique Monument: Centre Pompidou

As we always say, a ‘good architect’ is not only one who is a good designer; but also who travels and explores a lot and one who evaluates everywhere with their point of view to build the correct perspective.

In the direction of our this blief, we are frequently traveling and trying to evaluate the buildings that their names has written in architectural history and we want to share the information that we have taken about this buildings, our researches and photos.

Our first sharing from Koray Bakırküre who is Gürhan Bakırküre's son and he is continuing his architectural education in Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow.

A Unique Monument: Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou; built in the heart of Paris between 1970 and 1977 is without question among one of the most attention catching six-storey cultural centre worldwide designed by a cooperation of a young French architect called Renzo Piano and another young English architect called Richard Rogers along with Arup engineers and Gianfranco Franchini.

Pompidou Cultural Centre is a project which came into presence upon staging of an international competition by the French Ministry of Culture in 1971 upon the request of Georges Pompidou. The president sought to construct a total scale of 100.000 sq meters cultural centre that will be one and only in every respect. By this way, he was going to make his name all around the world and leave a monument behind him. He places utter importance on this matter as he even once criticised Charles de Gaulle, the former president of France by saying: “What a great pity that such a great man did not leave behind him a monument.” Despite the significance of making a name, the primary benefit of building this monument was to increase the ratio of tourism and therefore economy and eminence as well as the level of education and welfare. In order to accomplish all of these, he picked an exceptional project among many others to make people discuss, talk, argue over it to boost its recognition and popularity.

681 architects from 49 countries attended the competition. The competition was very important for the renowned architects Jean Prouve, Oscar Niemeyer and Philip Johnson being the jury and allowing, for the first time, for participation of foreign architects in France. The 2-hectares competition ground used as a car park is located in Beaubourg, the historical area of Paris at the right side of the River Seine. While all the competing projects filled the design area with masses the team of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers pursued a radical design strategy and emptied the half of the area in the region which had a settlement of attached buildings with courtyards and arranged urban open spaces for Beaubourg.

The centre consists of permanent exhibitions section, library, cinema, concert hall, musical research institute, national modern arts museum and industrial design centre. It consists of 10 floors, 7 of which are above the ground level and 3 as a basement and entirely is made of steel structure. 48 Mt. steel trusses lay along the building and connected to columns at the ends with cast metals. Thanks to internal support not being necessary by the use of these huge components, 50*170 Mt wide open spaces could be formed. In order to achieve flexibility to the maximum extent in these vast spaces where all kinds of exhibitions and events could be organised, all mechanic and service elements are carried to the façade.

The red colour on the façade of the building facing the public are indicates the elevator and stairs which are vertical circulation elements whereas green indicates liquid, yellow electric and blue air circulation sanitation systems.

The façade facing the public area being designed with this configuration by colour codings transformed the façade itself into an exhibition area and allowed the public area be included in the building as a focal point as well [2]. The square was also considered as a performance area. Here, cultural activities such as pandomime shows, street theatres, musical concerts take place.  With a slight incline, the square captivates people to the entry hall in the downstairs and invigorates the public environment-building relation.

Despite the fact that the existing building occupies a great scale of volume, the front court of the building is quite broad as well. Having a large front court is also very distinctive to the Museum of Pompidou since many museums do not include a front court. This area brings a great amount of liveliness to the building since a broad variety of activities and events occur every day. For instance, it is occupied by street performers, jugglers and mimes almost every open day of the centre. In the spring, carnivals take place in the court and catch great attention from everyone in Paris.

 In these carnivals, decent variety of bands, caricature and sketch artists appear and everyone have a wonderful time. Many individuals even only come to just sit in the court and socialize, have a chit chat, get to know new people, be exposed to healthy sunlight, read book, have a drink, and even just rest their head. Due to the inviting aspect of the front court, even random pedestrians walk by to just look around and experience a quality time. Having a large open space in front of a cultural centre is very welcoming, interesting and entertaining for the public. 

Another vivacious aspect of the building lies in its façade in the evenings. A colossal screen with appealing graphic effects is present in the main façade. By this way people from outside are intrigued in the building even during evenings.

In order to continue emptying inside of the building, walls are absent and there are only open spaces. By excluding walls, each floor could be divided or assembled according to the selection of activities. Furthermore, spaces could be either expanded or diminished depending on the size of the activities. For instance, if a size of 200 square meters exhibition has come to the cultural centre, exhibition space could be arranged to 200 square meters easily. Since, all of the piping systems, escalators, lifts, walls and columns are absent in the interior spaces, utilization of the interior activities is maximised.

The client had specified a number of special cultural activities. The aim was to broaden the scheme without forgetting specific requirements: creating a center for both tourists and local people; avoiding creating a center divided into individual tight departments; and creating a dynamic meeting place where the various activities could merge in flexible, well-serviced spaces. The attitude was that the greater the involvement of the public, the greater the success.

With its wonderful parts, the cultural centre unites great numbers of people from different religion, ethnicity, nationality and character.

Koray Bakırküre

24 Mart 2018