Pompidou Centre

That little known gateway to the continent, Ebbsfield International, is the best way to get to Paris if you live in South East London; easy parking; no queues; a dream start for a few days away. That’s my nod to the Thames out the way.

Lauded as both a world class art gallery and a cultural hub I visited the Centre Pompidou.  When it opened in 1977 it caused a shock with brightly coloured service pipes on the outside of the building. A lattice of steel beams and pipes, an external escalator and floors that hung from giant trusses providing uninterrupted space were radical.

Pompidou Centre

The architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano,who were still relatively unknown back in the 70s, were chosen from a field of over 700 architects to design the new centre.  At the time they described how the new design would provide maximum flexibility and enhance sustainability. Well, not quite forty years on a major design flaw is evident.

Pompidou Centre

The brightly coloured service pipes are now resting places for hundreds of pigeons.  Wide nets hang between the pipes to catch the pigeon shit although a significant amount still hits the pavements making it treacherous for the pedestrian.  Not quite the Paris street scene one expects.

Pompidou Square

Similarly the scene at the front of the building, which faces a large public square, isn’t a usual sight. There is no street furniture and people sit on the ground looking most uncomfortable.  It may well have been one of the first “iconic” building but time has not served it well, it looks jaded and poorly maintained. The architects went on to bigger and taller things.  Rogers went on to design the Lloyds building and to become a peer of the realm. Piano designed that capitalist icon The Shard. Let’s see how that fares in the coming decades.