Japanese architect crowns French museum with 'Chinese hat'

Wandering around a Paris craft shop one day in 1989, Shigeru Ban came across a Chinese bamboo hat.

Picking it up, the Japanese architect was intrigued by its design.

"I was amazed by the combination of the materials, the woven bamboo as a structure, the paper as waterproofing, and dried leaves underneath as insulation," he told AFP. "Just like the combination for a building's roof."

Twenty years on, the headwear stars in Ban's latest, most ambitious design: a new branch of France's top modern art museum, the Pompidou Centre.

It opens on Wednesday in the northern city of Metz, with a roof resembling a huge floppy Chinese hat.

"This is the biggest project I have ever done," said Ban, whose previous designs have included emergency shelters for refugees in countries including Rwanda and, recently, earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

"I have designed many other smaller buildings to study this kind of roof... but nobody has designed such a big timber roof," he told AFP at his office near the original Paris Pompidou Centre.

"It's the biggest Chinese hat ever."

The original Pompidou Centre draws in millions of visitors a year, sucking them up the glass tubes of its facade - a design by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers seen as outlandish and caused a stir when it opened in 1977.

"The Pompidou Centre is a very special contemporary art museum and because of this famous building there was big pressure for me" in designing the new branch, Ban said.

His wooden roof sits above a ground floor facade of glass shutters that can open in warm weather to draw in visitors. In between lie three elevated shoebox-shaped galleries, the window of the top one framing a view of Metz.

"I wanted to find something contextual, instead of designing a building which can exist anywhere in the world. I wanted to connect the art museum to the city," Ban explained.

The Paris museum's novel appearance was intended to be "totally opposite... to the surrounding buildings," he explained. "I'm not saying which is better. But I think that my design is really appropriate for Metz."

The new museum has 5,000 square metres (107,000 square feet) of gallery space for rarely seen works by the likes of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.

The Pompidou has a vast collection of modern art but limited wall space at its Paris home obliges it to keep thousands of its treasures hidden. The Metz venue's eight-metre ceilings allow huge canvases such as Matisse's "The Sadness of the King" to be freed from storage.

The Pompidou joins other world-class museums such as the Louvre and the Guggenheim in looking to open its collections to new audiences by planting new branches elsewhere.

The so-called "antenna" museums aim to regenerate the surrounding regions as the Guggenheim did in Bilbao, an industrial city in northern Spain, which opened in 1997 with an avant-garde design by US-based architect Frank Gehry.

Metz hopes that its new museum will likewise boost the fortunes of a town traditionally known as an army base, which is set to see thousands of military jobs disappear due to restructuring.

"The Pompidou will radically change the image of Metz in France and in Europe," said the former mayor of the city, Jean-Marie Rausch, who helped launch the project. He forecasts the museum will get 400,000 visitors a year.

Meanwhile another northern French city, the former mining town of Lens, is preparing to receive its own outlet of world-class art when the Louvre - Paris's most visited museum - opens a sister branch there in 2012.

The Louvre Lens is also designed by Japanese architects - Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Tokyo-based firm Sanaa.

They were not available for an interview but their plans foresee a series of rectangular buildings, contrasting strongly with Ban's hexagonal floating hat.

Ban refused to comment on the design for the other museum.

"I never take a look at the designs of others," he said. Neither did he discuss his own design with two acquaintances of his, the original Pompidou architects Piano and Rogers, he added. "An architect doesn't do that."

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas