Herzog & de Meuron
Competition
2003

The CPM building invites viewers to travel through a vertical city, in a visit paced by moments of concentration and introspection within its galleries. Such moments spent engaging with the art and oneself are followed by more leisurely, open-ended moments in which to engage with others. Certain zones recall the density of an old-town district, others a topographic or mineral park; others still evoke a modern neighbourhood that opens upwards to the sky.

The building is to be understood and run like a tool of perception: it shows the works of art, the city, the world, and ourselves.

Its outside skin itself, is a mirror…

The new Centre Pompidou is in keeping with the image of the City of Metz. Its proportions and mirror-façade engage with the monuments defining the urban skyline, as do, among others, the Cathedral, the train station tower, and the water tower.

Housed above the city, its public spaces are horizontal and panoramic, thus standing out from vertically authoritarian spaces that shut out the exterior—the cathedral for instance.

Rearing over the plant life in the park below, its distinctive outline catches the eye of European travellers gazing out from the high-speed train.

The building takes foothold in the city, settling down on its esplanade and inviting visitors to enter.

The building in its surroundings
The new Centre Pompidou is an iconic object belonging to the image of the City of Metz. Standing high, it can be seen beyond the railway lines as it engages with the city’s other monuments. It also belongs to the French landscape; moreover, located alongside the future high-speed train station, it will become an object of European stature. It enjoys a foothold in the city, on the esplanade where other public buildings, a multimedia library for instance, promise to follow. At the same time, its mirror skin blends it in with the Amphitheatre Park.

Museographic concept
The spatially compressed floor levels of an introspective nature feature the works of art in a series of orthogonally-structured, adjustable gallery rooms. Visitors take a linear path in following an exhibition’s theme, engaging with both the art and themselves.

Along the decompressed floor levels, which are panoramic and extraverted—the museum forum, café, bookshop, and the like—visitors are free to wander in a spontaneous and possibly even chaotic way. Art installations crop up informally, occasionally, unpredictably. These floor levels are mainly meeting places.

The gallery rooms are variously divided up: the building’s structure defines but a few concrete walls, with the other partitions being positioned depending on the different collection presentations.
In their expressivity, the decompressed floors are meeting places and venues for informal art installations.

In action
The escalators and elevators enable visitors to arrive immediately at their intended destination, and are generously dimensioned to facilitate crowd-drawing events.

The ceremonial stairways encourage walks through the CPM at a more contemplative pace.

Structure
The vertical loads are shifted from one exhibition floor to the next through the decompressed floor levels.
This produces a non-rectilinear and non-vertical language with a spatially expressive impact.
Herzog & de Meuron 2003

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Process

This regional center, which is widely known as a stop on the TGV route, is to be enhanced with a cultural park on the other side of the rail station.

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An offshoot of the Centre Pompidou is to anchor this development and become a new icon in Metz; a new esplanade links it to the city.

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Herzog & de Meuron design the new museum as a cube, easily identifiable both to pedestrians in Metz and to passengers on trains speeding through Europe.

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Sketches and models show the museum’s evolution from a cube with a central opening to a stratified cube.

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Three exhibition floors with high ceilings and two lower-ceilinged, open floors with public functions create a dynamic architectural sequence.

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The museum invites visitors to take a vertical promenade that opens out and closes in again, embracing both extraversion and introspection.

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The mirrored facade of the exhibition floors reflects the surroundings and references aspects of the city and its cathedral.

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Load-bearing structures and circulation routes offer visitors a variety of ways to experience the museum.

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Its wealth of spaces facilitates both classic, self-contained displays and very open presentations and installations.

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Drawings

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Team

Project Team

Facts

Client
La ville de Metz, France
Planning
Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
General Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Cost Consultant: SBE Ingenierie, Metz, France
HVAC Engineering: SBE Ingenierie, Strasbourg, France
Structural Engineering: RFR, Paris, France
Building Data
Gross floor area (GFA): 186'215 sqft, 17'300 sqm
Links
www.centrepompidou-metz.fr

Bibliography

Gerhard Mack, Herzog & de Meuron: “Herzog & de Meuron 2002-2004. The Complete Works. Volume 5.” Birkhäuser, 2020.

Fernando Márquez Cecilia, Richard Levene (Eds.): “El Croquis. Herzog & de Meuron 2002-2006. Monumento e Intimidad. The Monumental and the Intimate.” Vol. No. 129/130, Madrid, “El Croquis,” 2006.