Essential Architecture-  Paris

Centre Pompidou formerly "Centre Beaubourg"


Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano


Place Georges Pompendeau, telephone: 01-44-78-12-33. (get off at metro stations: Rambuteau or Les Halles. RER Châtelet - Les Halles) 


1972 to 1976


High-Tech Modern structural expressionist




  Artwork by Simon Fieldhouse. (Copyright Simon Fieldhouse)

The Pompidou Centre's famous external skeleton of service pipes.

From Place Georges Pompidou
La Sirène, Fontaine Stravinsky, Paris
La Sirène, Fontaine Stravinsky, Paris

The Centre Georges Pompidou (constructed 1971–1977 and known as the Pompidou Centre in English) is a building in the Beaubourg area of the IVe arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles and the Marais. Designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, it houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information, a vast public library, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg.

Some of the art movements represented in the Musée National d'Art Moderne are Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. The museum has 50,000 works of art (including painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography), of which 1,500 to 2,000 are on public display.

The building structure is very distinctive: it has been described by critics as "an oil refinery in the centre of the city". In the beginning, it was highly controversial, however its unique appearance has become more accepted. The coloured external piping is the special feature of the building. Air conditioning ducts are blue, water pipes are green and electricity lines are yellow. Escalators are red. White ducts are ventilation shafts for the underground areas. Even the steel beams that make up the Pompidou Centre's framework are on the outside.

The intention of the architects was to place the various service elements (electricity, water etc.) outside of the building's framework and therefore turn the building "inside out". The arrangement also allows an uncluttered internal space for the display of art works, drawing on ideas promulgated by Cedric Price's Fun Palace project (1964).

Access and surrounding area
The library is on the first three floors; the museum is on the fourth and fifth floor.

The Place Georges Pompidou in front of the museum is noted for the presence of street performers such as mimes and jugglers.

The nearby Stravinsky Fountain (or Fontaine des automates) near the Centre Pompidou, features works by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phalle.

The Centre is named after Georges Pompidou, who was president of France from 1969 to 1974, and was opened on January 31, 1977.

Organisationally it is linked to IRCAM.

The Beaubourg's brutalist architecture may have been an inspiration for the similarly-named Borg cube.