A Translucent Hat

A Translucent Hat

The annex of Paris’ Pompidou Center, the Centre Pompidou-Metz located in the city of Metz in northeastern France, gives the impression of a museum taking shelter in under a large, gracefully curved, freestanding roof. The hexagonal building, designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, features three rectangular galleries poking out around its central atrium. They sprout like rectangular tubes from the center, peeking out from under the roof at different views of the surrounding city.

This very dominant roof is made of a hexagonal lattice of wood, covered with a waterproof membrane of glass-fiber reinforced PTFE (or “nylon” to most folks). During the day, it appears white when seen from a distance. It is in fact translucent, which becomes evident when the visitor is underneath it during the daytime, or sees it from a distance at night, when it is illuminated from within.

From Shigeru Ban Architects site:

This annex for the Pompidou Center in Paris, is to be built in Metz as a complex including an art museum and theater. By locating a large roof in the park, and by opening the glass shutter façade around the perimeter, a continuous transition of the interior and exterior space is created. The roof is made from laminated wood in a hexagonal woven pattern composed in the form of a Chinese bamboo-woven hat. This large wooden roof is covered in a Teflon-coated fiberglass membrane and allows soft natural light to filter into the interior. The main galleries are a series of 90mx15m cantilevering rectilinear tubes that float above the ground, and their glass window ends point in the direction of the cathedral and other monuments of the city.


The building seems to be composed of numerous symbols. The overall shape is hexagonal because the country of France, as seen on the world map, is roughly hexagonal in shape. The shape of the roof takes the form of a Chinese woven bamboo hat. The apex of the roof is 77 meters high, because the original Pompidou Centre opened in 1977.

And the roof is translucent because, well,… does Light really need a symbolic value?

Images via http://www.shigerubanarchitects.com