From pipes to hats: another bold Pompidou is on the way

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The Independent Online

While most museums are in the French capital, this will be the first national museum outside Paris.

The Pompidou Centre Metz in north-eastern France, to open in 2008, will show exhibits from the Paris museum's 56,000-piece collection that are rarely seen due to lack of space. Only about 1,300 works can be shown at once in the main Pompidou Centre.

The expansion comes as part of a new trend in French museums to better expose their collections.

The Louvre plans a sister museum in the northern town of Lens in 2009.

Shigeru Ban, an award-winning Japanese architect who drew inspiration from a conical bamboo hat, is heading thedesign team. "I bought the hat six years ago in a Chinese clothes shop in Paris when I was already thinking about ideas for roofs," Mr Ban said.

Playing off the conical theme but to a softer effect, the roof of the Metz museum will rise to a rounded peak and have a gently rippled brim. It will sit atop a large gallery space of 10,000 square metres that, like the Paris Pompidou, will feature glass walls and panoramic views.

Construction will start in January next year, with the cost estimated at €35.5m (£24.3m). The project will be funded by local, regional and national governments.

Mr Ban won the competition to design the museum with a Frenchman, Jean de Gastines, and Philip Gumuchdjian of Britain. He won the 2002 World Architecture Award for the "Best House in the World" for his design of a so-called naked house - a large open plan room in which cubical units can be moved according to the moods of the occupant.

Mr Ban is also known for building temporary shelters from cardboard. His structures went up in Sri Lanka after last year's tsunami and in Japan after the 1995 Kobe earthquake. He won the World Architecture Award for the best building in Europe for an imposing Japan pavilion made of paper at the Hanover Expo in 2001.

A small amount of paper will be used in the Pompidou project, for acoustics on the ceiling of the museum's cinema. The Paris Pompidou Centre's six-level structure made of steel and glass, with an escalator snaking up the outside, was built by the Italian Renzo Piano and the Briton Richard Rogers.

Innovation earned the Pompidou Centre its share of critics. The modern art museum is now among the most frequently-visited sites in France, with six million people passing through its doors every year.