Centre Pompidou – 40 Years Old and Never Looked Better!

written byTracey Sludds
Façade of Pompidou centre showing main external staircase.

You will have read in my bio, my favourite piece of architecture is the Pompidou Centre in Paris, designed in high-tech style by the architectural team of Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini, via an architectural competition of 681 entries, commissioned by the then President of France, Georges Pompidou.

Opened in 1977, this year the Centre Pompidou is celebrating its 40th anniversary. This bold and brave high-tech style of architecture has been described as a ‘love at second sight’ building. Personally I loved it before I even saw it. When I read in secondary school about this revolutionary building in Paris which had an ‘exposed skeleton of brightly coloured tubes for services’ in order to allow each internal floor space to be completely free to be used for all forms of cultural activities, I was simply amazed with the bravery of the designers.

The Centre today houses the Parisian Public Library, National Museum of Modern Art, and the Centre of Music and Acoustic Research, and is boasted as one of the most successful buildings of all time

Façade of Pompidou centre showing external services painted in blue, green and pink with white vent pipes.

One of the distinctive features of the Centre Pompidou is the striking presence of colour. Four strong colours – blue, red, yellow and green – clothe the structure and enliven the façade, their use colour-coded by the architects:

  • blue for circulating air (air conditioning)
  • yellow for circulating electricity 
  • green for circulating water 
  • red for circulating people (escalators and lifts).

The building extends over 10 floors of 7,500m2 each, providing over 12,210m2 for the collection of Musée National d’Art Moderne, 5,900m2 for temporary exhibitions, 2 cinemas of total 459 seats, 384 seated performance space, and a 158 seated lecture theatre.

I myself am celebrating 40 years this year - and I make no apology for it! I will most definitely be making a trip to the Pompidou Centre in Paris to celebrate with this amazing, strangely beautiful building. 

Circulation route in Pompidou centre with yellow feature hanging from ceiling and people walking underneath.