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Form and Content at the Centre Pompidou, Paris

by Rowynn Dumont, Cohort ’13

This essay offers a brief discussion on the discourse of Kantian form vs. Hegelian content in relation to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. Can form and content coexist in one architectural entity? My argument is that the Centre Pompidou, outwardly displays Kantian form, and yet at the same time, holds Hegelian content throughout its collective spirit.

In terms of defining form and content, we will use the following definitions: Eternal Kantian Form, is one which holds line and geometric shape but without the content. Hegelian Content is the concepts and history of an object. Modernism was a celebration of form, a metaphorical shedding of the allegory. But you cannot have form without content. Postmodernism came along and fractured form. It changed the way people saw and were seen in their constructed theories on art and philosophy. Now form could be something, which could also hold content.

 


With this new sight it was apparent that everything has content. One of the architectural landscapes that could be said to hold both form and content is the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The architectural team consisting of Rogers, Piano and Franchini, designed this complex entity in 1977. The center is considered a great achievement in the forth coming of Postmodernist Structuralism. Le Figaro, a daily French newspaper, in reaction to the Centre stated, “Paris has its own monster, just like the one in Loch Ness.” (Silver). The building’s skeletal like “pure form” had never been encountered in Paris before, nor has it since. A new library and one of the greatest collections of Fine Art was placed within the Centre and made open to the public, this helped to pass the aversion. The Pritzker jury said the Pompidou, “revolutionized museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.” (Pogrebin).

Can form and content coexist in one architectural entity? The Centre Pompidou in Paris proves this possibility making the world a better place for it now and for future generations to come.