Piano + Rogers proposed a truly flexible container, in which all interior spaces could be rearranged at will and exterior elements could be clipped on and off over the life span of the building . The centre was to act as ‘an ever-changing framework, a meccano kit, a climbing frame for the old and the young’. Conceived as a well serviced shed, the building contains a series of uniform spaces supported externally by a free-standing structural frame, the whole capable of change in plan, section and elevation, able to absorb the unforeseen requirements of the future.
The lower level of the building contains large public areas such as the theatre, shops, reception and café at street level. Above, vast open floors house galleries, outdoor terraces and administrative areas. Finally, the top floor accommodates a restaurant, experimental cinema and temporary exhibitions, all of which would be open late into the night, bringing life and activity to the square during the evening.
Half the site was left unbuilt-upon, making way for a square of civic proportions, to be used for a wide variety of public uses including markets, exhibitions, visual happenings, circuses , games, buskers and so on. Rue St. Martin, with its lively mix of residences above businesses was to be closed to allow the cafes, restaurants and shops to spill out into the square.
Facing the square, the west façade is given over to vertical and horizontal movement, taking advantage of spectacular views over Paris . Circulation devices - escalators, lifts, escape stairs, galleries and corridors - are clipped onto the facade in a vertical continuation of the activities in the square below so that visitors can use it as a place to simply appreciate the view, whether or not they visit the galleries. In contrast, the east facade facing Rue du Renard contains all of the mechanical services, goods lifts and fire stairs, with continuous steel galleries for ease of maintenance and access.
The building is able to be altered in plan, section and elevation to suit changing requirements over the buildings’ life. The notion of flexibility is extended to every component of the building, from large clip-on elements that attach to the main façade, to interior partitions and services.
Half the available site area was allocated to public open space in the form of a large piazza. Bordering the piazza, Rue St. Martin was regenerated so that the activities of the cafes, restaurants and shops spill out into the newly created public square, fusing the life of the surrounding streets with those of the new building.
The site for the Centre Pompidou is located in the centre of Paris, within one kilometre of Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum. The Pompidou Centre was planned as a key connection in the renewal of the historic heart of the capital.
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