The Pompidou Centre. Inside Out

Towering Above
Towering Above

What is the best house for an art museum if not art itself? With an open heart and bones of steel, the Pompidou Centre towers naked above the French roofs of the 4th arrondissement. Among them it stands out,  an alien surrounded by mortals.

A myriad of pipes wraps the back of the building: not to protect it but to make it work. The engine of the Pompidou Centre larks in the blue, green, red, yellow, grey and white tubes, each of which carries a different service: fool-proof and ideal for any problem. At least plumbers and electricians immediately know where to put their hands!

Myriad Of Pipes
Myriad Of Pipes

In this transgressive museum, all the old conventions collapse, leaving everything inside-out and giving carte blanche to the men. This is a building for the community. A mixture between the ancient polis and the Bauhaus, where every truth is tolerated because democracy reigns.

For The Community
For The Community

It is a structure that fully belongs to our century even if it was constructed in the past one. It is innovation, rebellion, desire to go beyond and flip the charts. It represents all the expectations, all the great ideals, all the hopes for the new millennium. We cannot yet tell if all these good intentions have become true, since we are still sailing in this century, but certainly the Pompidou now stands in front of us.

Many say that this is love at second sight. For me, no doubt it was love at first sight.

Love At First Sight
Love At First Sight
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The British Museum. Never The Same

The British Museum
The British Museum

Walk up the steps, cross the pronaos, rush through the first room, enter the main courtyard and look up: you will be rendered speechless. The modern roof designed by Fosters and Partners hovers above you. 3312 glazing panels – none of which are the same – frame 3312 triangular slices of sky.

This is the heart of the British Museum. The metaphor of all the different civilizations, whose relics are conserved in the museum. Like those different cultures, the panels interact, collide, work together. The result is a strong and stable structure.

New And Old
New And Old

Lowering the eyes, a second consideration comes to mind: contrast. At first glance, it is an architectonical and spatial contrast. The modern roof both holds together the different entities of the building and divides them, thus creating a new central space where the interplay of modern and neoclassical architecture is dominant.

However beyond that initial contrast, there is a deeper antithesis. This is hidden in the soul of the building: the people.

A museum without people is no museum at all.

The Main Atrium
The Main Atrium

Visitors come from every region of the world to see the wonders preserved in the museum. Sculptures, objects, books that – even if stolen – do not belong to us. Uprooted from their place of origin, they mingle among the crowd, in rooms where the frenetic movement of the visitors clashes with the stillness of the stone and marble. It is this contrast that shapes the building and makes it unique.

A building that is never experienced in the same way, because the people who walk through it are all different. Each individual with a distinct history, similar to the statues and the artifacts, not unlike the glazing panels.

The Modern Roof
The Modern Roof

London Aquatics Centre. A Solitary Wave

London Aquatics Centre
London Aquatics Centre

In the far east of London, stands majestic and solitary the London Aquatics Centre. In an almost inexistent context, it emerges from the flatness of the surroundings, like a solitary wave in the middle of the ocean.

At first sight, its dynamic form amazes but then the question arises: would it be as beautiful within a context? Or is it this emptiness that enhances the building? “Space is meaningless without scale, containment, boundaries and direction”, writes Huxtable – so is the aquatic centre just a meaningless wonder?

Curved Wall
Curved Wall

I cannot deny that its shape and materiality interests me. The timber gently bended, the slightly tilted glass, the overall movement, the long span…all details showing a long and well thought study of the structure. I cannot even deny that it does not serve its purpose, because it does. Oriented on a north-south axis, it has glazing on the east and west side, providing natural lighting to the swimming pool in the morning and in the afternoon.

I can, however, say that when I stand in front of it, it does not make me burn inside. Instead, I feel insignificant, in this immense and flat urban desert where the only spectator is the mute and motionless London skyline.

London Aquatics Centre