Art under a straw hat

Placeholder for a picture
of the project
Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France CHP GmbH, Freiburg, Germany
Art under a straw hat
A building which houses modern and contemporary art must, itself also, satisfy certain artistic demands. And
this is certainly the case at the Pompidou Art Center in Metz: The architects were inspired by the straw hats
of japanese rice farmers. This new home for art represents a milestone in the field of architecture and faced
structural engineers with a number of challenges. They were solved with Allplan Engineering.
Not only is the Pompidou Center in Metz the centerpiece of an
are complemented by the 1,200m² nave, a studio for cinema
extensive redevelopment project in the capital of the Lorraine
and theater performances and an auditorium for other events.
region but, it is the first decentralization project carried out by a
An information center, a café, a restaurant and a bookshop are
French cultural institute. It also marks a completely new trend in
located in adjoining rooms.
this previously very centralized country. With its own exhibitions
and events, the new art center will give a wide ranging audience
The straw hat design was realized using a filigree roof structure
the chance to see things previously only available at the main
made of laminated spruce. The glass fiber and Teflon membrane
Pompidou Center. Established in 1977 in Paris, with around
consists of six rectangular modules that cover an area of
59,000 exhibits, it is the largest interdisciplinary collection of
8,000 m² and falls from a height of 37 meters from a metal ring.
modern and contemporary art in Europe. The aim of the Pom-
The total exhibition area is 5,020 m². All exhibition areas can
pidou Center in Metz is to establish itself as a point of cultural
be modularized as required, thus contributing an element of
influence throughout eastern France, to enable it to develop into
surprise to artistic displays. Taken as a whole, the airy building is
one of the main cultural institutes in Europe.
somewhat reminiscent of a big circus tent with a front yard and
some green spaces.
A tent full of surprises
The architects Shigeru Ban (Tokyo), Jean de Gastines (Paris)
Between desire and reality
and Philip Gumuchdjian (London) won the international archi-
During the planning of the supporting general arrangement, it
tectural competition in 2003, with a floating design of concrete,
quickly became apparent that the original architectural concept
steel and wood. The client Metz Métropole selected the
was associated with serious risks in terms of construction: a
Demathieu & Bard construction group to establish the suppor-
wooden roof structure was planned, which was to be fixed to the
ting general arrangement, with the CTE engineering agency
concrete construction and would therefore be very rigid. In con-
in Mulhouse and thus its Freiburg branch, CHP GmbH, being
trast, the galleries were designed to be very flexible. There was
assigned the task of structural design.
therefore a risk of uncontrollable deformations forming between
the various construction elements.
The groundbreaking nature of the building, which was inspired
by the image of a rice farmer‘s straw hat, made the structural
Together with the french company Demathieu & Bard, and with
design a particular challenge: Firstly, the three materials – metal,
support from the timber specialist Professor Dominique Calvi,
wood and concrete had to be combined and their static inter-
CTE reworked the original design. The three galleries were
dependently taken into account. And secondly, the architectural
constructed as more rigid, monolithic structures upon which the
design was very complex due to the optically individual, yet
roof rested as a floating spherical form. The horizontal and ver-
statically overlapping interwoven elements.
tical deformations between the supporting general arrangement
of concrete and the surrounding steel and wood structures were
Three exhibition galleries made of reinforced concrete extend
thereby disconnected.
out from a hexagonal tower; a 77 meter high arrow shaped steel
tube frame construction. The galleries overlap each other in the
If one takes a look at some of the key figures, the construction
form of a parallelepiped and cross each other at 45 degree
requirements of this project are particularly impressive in terms
angles. The over 80 meter long galleries are supported by nar-
of the size of the computer model: 45,000 surface elements,
row concrete columns. The main load bearing structure consists
15,000 wire elements, 346 foundation points, 240 load cases
of reinforced concrete and covers seven floors. The galleries
and 600 load combinations were also to be taken into account.
Seamless cooperation
A further advantage of 3D planning with Allplan was that, in contrast to conventional rein-forcement planning in 2D, no specific
information had to be transferred between users. This allowed
all designers, wherever they were based, to work at any time on
plans based on a single 3D model. Knowing exactly how another
designer had previously worked on the plan was not necessary.
This is particularly useful for international, cross-border projects
such as the Pompidou Center in Metz.
In terms of cooperation, CHP also benefited from the international nature of Allplan Engineering: this allowed, for example,
using a French version of Allplan Engineering to be transferred
Once the static challenges were resolved, the computational
via the Internet to the German design partner. The required
results from CHP‘s Freiburg office were integrated into the
planning data, relating to the construction progress, could thus
reinforcement design. For this, CHP relied on the Nemetschek
be extracted from the building model in France, transferred in the
Allplan solution Allplan Engineering. Two dimensional plan-
original format and imported in the same place in the model by
ning was not sufficient for the challenges of this project, as the
CHP in Germany. On the basis of this, CHP designers were able
complexity of the intersections and the connection points, as well
to create reinforcement plans compliant with French standards
as the high degree of reinforcement required, made 3D tools vital
while working with their German user interfaces. The reinforce-
for the reinforcement planning.
ment schedules could also be output in French.
The interactive functionality of Allplan Engineering provided
Challenging parts of the reinforcement system were discussed
support in this respect to the CHP planners: depending on
and resolved directly on the reinforcement model with the French
requirements, the CAD designers could work with floor plans,
partners by means of desktop sharing. By virtue of the common
isometrics, views and sections in order to create the spatial
database and common method of working in Allplan, it was pos-
model. Changes to the reinforcing body were then automatically
sible to direct the Freiburg-based team from France just as easily
transferred by the system to all plans and lists.
as if they had been sitting in the room next door. The partners
could therefore always rapidly react to any special issues arising
Particular attention was given to the portrayal of connections
on site in Metz.
between the tower and the galleries, between the main facade
and the galleries, between the gallery ceilings and walls and
The European design team can now look back on another
between the various floors and the main structure of the tower. In
successful project featuring intensive cooperation. Despite the
addition to the usual planning documents, 3D detail renderings
complex tasks, the time pressure and some significant change
of the reinforcing body were created from the highly complex pe-
requests, there were no design or list errors. This can be attribut-
netration points and passed on to the building site. These helped
ed to the diligent work of the designers as well as the power of
the onsite construction teams to better understand the respective
Allplan Engineering.
situations and to identify the best possible construction solutions.
© Nemetschek Allplan GmbH, Munich, Germany, www.allplan.com
the general arrangement plans created by CTE in Mulhouse
A clear view in the third dimension