Paris 2013 - Pompidou Centre
The Pompidou Centre in Paris is a huge cultural complex in the Beaubourg District. It houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne - one of the largest contemporary art museums in Europe, a large public library, and also IRCAM - a centre for music and acoustic research. For the foodie - there is also a designer restaurant at the roof top - Le Georges with great views but a pricey menu.
What attracted me to the building is the architecture. This is one of the most iconic "high-tech" building of the Modernist era - designed by two of the great modern master architects - Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. They won the project through a competition, and it established both of them as the preeminent practitioners of high-tech architecture.
The building was so radical for its time that it was not well-received at first. Imagine an important cultural institution that looks like an oil-refinery ! It was one of the fist modern buildings to expose all the services on the outside for all to see - a bit like pulling all the inner organs of a human being and exposing them outside the body. It sounds atrocious on a human - but to me works extremely well for a building - especially when it is done so well like it was at Pompidou Centre.
The great advantage of putting all the services outside is that you get huge uncluttered spaces inside the building. The interior is more like an air-craft hangar or large warehouse then a conventional building.
The best time to visit the building is in the evening - when the sun is just setting. The glow of light from inside the building against the skeleton of the building lay bare the structural logic of the design.
When you are wondering around Paris at night, make sure you are always on alert. It was here - outside the Pompidou Centre that I notice a suspicious character who was scanning the passersby. It was when he started to follow me that I sensed something was not right. I quickly went into the building and he stopped just outside the door. Luckily when I went out of the building he was gone.