Tuesday, June 2, 2009

L'IRCAM (Extension)

Few visitors to the Centre Georges Pompidou are aware that an integral part of the scheme is also a centre for research into music and sound, the IRCAM (L'Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique). The reason for this oversight is very clear - the original structure is completely underground, and it wasn't until the architect Renzo Piano added an above ground level extension that anybody could be expected to know of its existence.

For the original structure, Piano and Richard Rogers had been free to use the design and materials of their choice, but when Piano was asked to add additional floor space and come back above ground he was forced to respect Paris planning laws. He would be limited to a certain height, and above all, the building would have to be in brick to match the two neighbouring structures (an old school and a disused public baths).

Renzo Piano has never done things the easy way though, and was totally against producing a simple building in brick and mortar. He wanted to find a new way to work with the material, and eventually discovered a technique which allowed him to use brick in the facade without actually sticking them together. The bricks are actually perforated and strung together like beads on a necklace, then placed into panels and slotted into the building's metal frame.

The technique was experimental and proved to be very costly. After being placed into the furnace, the 20,000 bricks used in the building had expanded slightly and would no longer fit the frames, so each one had to be filed down to the correct size again - by hand! Nevertheless, the result was judged an overwhelming success and has become something of a Piano trademark, and much copied elsewhere.

Address: 1, Place Igor Stravinsky, 75004
Architect: Renzo Piano
Year of construction: 1988-89

27 comments:

lovelyprism said...

While that's not my favorite architectural style, I very much appreciate the history behind it. Cool story.

beradical919 said...

But it's not brick! It's terra cotta.

Unknown said...

thanks for the explanation - does anyone know the website of the terra cotta manufacturer? apparently a firm named: Giraud Frères and located in southern France.

Chris D said...

Terreal façade have used images of this project in their product publications

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Unknown said...

Wow, this is actually pretty cool! I've been having a lot of trouble finding any information about IRCAM's exterior in terms of how it was built and this blog helped me a lot. Thank you!

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