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Architecture In France Essay

3184 words - 13 pages

Centre Georges Pompidou (1971-1977) is a building that has challenged the limits of the imagination of its designers as well as the properties of the materials it is made of. The centre has a high profile that goes beyond its gigantic scale. It was a project long anticipated by people of France and launched by their President. It was also engineered by Britain's top engineers, and has put its architects on the map. This has inevitably attracted endless heated debates on the building, be it political, cultural, technical or architectural. It is however an unmistakable fact that the Centre was the forerunner in structural technology of its time. This essay attempts to discuss above all the structural technology of the centre in relation to the style of architecture which it represents.The background of Centre Pompidou can be tracked down to a few decades prior to its construction. Long before the Second World War, there had been proposals in Paris for an Art Centre on the right bank to provide a better artistic balance to the city. Subsequently, the 1960s saw an evolution towards European unity in progress and the search for a capital of Europe. Paris found itself in competition with other major European cities to become the centre for banking, commercial and cultural in a time of general economic expansion. There were already plans for a new business centre in La Defense but Paris lacked a central institutionalised cultural apparatus. The project for an institutionalised cultural centre emerged as a logical necessity because it was nonetheless apparent that various government sponsored activities and initiatives in the cultural domain were too fragmented and dispersed.In 1969 George Pompidou, a professor turned politician, was elected the President of France. As an amateur of modern art he lent a sympathetic ear to proposals for the construction of a central public library for the municipality as well as a larger museum for 20th century art. In the summer of 1970 the French Government, under President Pompidou's direction, announced an open competition for the design of a cultural centre. It was intended as the great centre of artistic exchange for both Paris and the whole of France, housing four major specialist activities: Museum of Modern Art, a reference library, a centre of industrial design, and a centre for music and acoustic research.The competition site was situated in a depressed area of the historic centre of Paris within 1km of Notre Dame and the Louvre. Before Centre Pompidou got its current name it was commonly known as Beaubourg after its neighbourhood. It was a densely populated medieval quarter on the edge of the district of Marais where people both live and work (figure 1). There is one major road bordering the site, rue du Renard. The existing buildings around the site are mainly of stone, 17th to 19th century. The area was cramped and badly planned and there were no sizeable open spaces in this central area. To the north a...

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