Place Pompidou, Paris
In use: The design maintains a classical relationship between the civic building and the piazza that it frames. The generosity of the public space is remarkable as a proportion of the overall plot.
Details: Traditional materials have been used for the square with cobble stones set in fan patterns. This is in contrast to the modern building and imposing sculptural vents arranged along the perimeter of the square.
Flexibility: Looking down onto the square from inside the building illustrates the lack of street furniture or planned elements within the space. This approach enables flexibility, allowing the square to be adapted for play, socialising, demonstration or events.
Use of topography: The slope of the square creates an amphitheatre effect between building and space. The gentle angle makes it more comfortable to sit and encourages groups to congregate
Thresholds: The square has a clear yet porous edge with Rue Saint-Martin using bollards and tree planting. Blank walls and level changes separate the central space from the its lateral edges.
Reflection: Escalators and entrance doors are no longer free to enter without security checks, making the façade of the building less permeable. This diminishes the interactive relationship between the Pompidou and the life of the city outside; a connection that was an important aspect of the project’s original design intent.
A once divisive (and now much loved) cultural institution and public space in the heart of Paris
In each issue of Behind the Image, one of our contributors visits a modern public space from around the world. The photography tries to reveal an alternative perspective on a familiar precedent, famous space or place. These images illustrate how the public space works in practice: exploring its features (designed and unintended), and the way it relates to the surrounding context.