The Pompidou Centre is a massive modern art and culture facility in central Paris, on the western edge of the Marais district. Its architectural claim to fame is that it was designed with all its systems (heating, cooling, plumbing, visitor circulation, etc) exposed on the outside of the building, a sort of deconstruction of the notion of architecture. This, in addition to being an interesting concept, gives it another claim to fame: being perhaps the single ugliest piece of modern civic architecture known to man. And in a world where Brutalist architecture exists, this is no mean feat. What this does do positively, however, is provide a venue in which urban street art has a genuine, appropriate, sanctioned environment in which to exist. The wild vibrant gestural organic nature of street art contrasts with the highly composed, almost abstract structure of the ventilation and exhaust pipes and the security fencing around their access points.
Street art has even been allowed to take over the stuccoed side of an existing 18th century building in what appears to be an homage to Salvador Dali.
Of course this doesn’t entirely stop unsanctioned street art or even just flat-out graffiti of a very pedestrian variety from cropping up around it. Graffiti aside, I thought this little house squeezed in between the gothic church and the later townhouse was fascinating – I could actually see setting up a small studio on the ground floor and living in the room above it.