Friday, September 2, 2011

September Dreaming Spring . . . French Spring . . .

Although I love where I live, especially when Orcas swim by. and although I appreciate September's cooling days with the return to classes, meeting new students, greeting my colleagues again, my thoughts do sometimes drift wistfully back to France. When they do, I remember that there are photos I haven't yet posted from this last spring's visit. I offered a few the other day of architectural details in Paris, mostly reflecting the rectilinear constraints of urban density.
The lines of "the other" Pompidou centre-- not the one in Paris' Beaubourg area, that is, but the one in Metz-- are much more liberated, swooping over the roof's curves to echo the clouds above, arranging themselves into hexagons apparently inspired by a woven bamboo hat, but which suggested Stars of David to me -- and I'm apparently not alone, according to this worthwhile article on the building.
We could quite happily have spent a day exploring this building and its exhibits, but we'd left our visit 'til the day of our departure, and we only had a morning before our train back to Paris.
But if you're at all interested in contemporary architecture in France, this building by Shigeru Ban, in collaboration with Jean de Gastines, is worth travelling to Metz to see. Especially since Metz itself is a repository of architectural history. If you'll remember, it's home to my favourite cathedral ever/so far, St. Maximin (as well as to the best quiche!).
There's also a glorious opera house and a railway station imposingly reflective of German imperialism as well as the fortifications surrounding the city.

Meanwhile, this soaring contemporary interior exults on a blue-skied, light-filled day, and I'm curious about what it will be like in the greyer season. I'm reading a fascinating book on cities right now from a philosopher's perspective (Mark Kingwell's Concrete Reveries) and his attention to thresholds -- between outside and inside, public and private, for example -- influences my re-viewing of the building through these photos, so that I see how transparent, how light, are the membranes between in and out here, and yet what a different atmosphere is achieved in this great hall.
We're off to a city today, but one much closer to home. It's my last marking-free weekend for a long while, and my niece is bringing my two-month-old grand-nephew from their small northern city to meet his maternal family at a brunch hosted in the new home of my sister and BIL, recently back at the Coast after years in Manitoba's much colder climes.  So family riches and September sunshine, ferry rides and baby hugs, all will keep me happily in my West Coast present.
But you'll pardon me if I day-dream, just occasionally, about springtime in Metz . . . Where will you be, and where will you be dreaming of?


  1. Stars of David, yes, but I also see the that pattern in woven cane chair seats.

    Enjoy this last marking-free weekend with the family. We're hoping to get MIL home this weekend, which will be a project and a relief.

  2. Yes, Stars of David and woven cane seats :-). I like when buildings have light membranes between in and out, making the in feel more exalted.

    Have a beautiful weekend!

  3. Wow amazing building - though I think it looks better from the inside, than the out. I'd definitely like to visit Metz sometime soon, but in springtime... I'll probably be dreaming of Paris!

  4. In the first photo, of the ceiling I see star of david, and then chair caning from the interior view. What an interesting space this must be and I would love to see it someday. It looks like it bridges may spaces, as you mention, inside and outside, public and private, grand occaions and the smallness of the everyday -- I'm thinking of the chair-caning look here. I love spaces that make me look at the world differently.

  5. Sue: You're right, it really does suggest that classic woven-cane pattern. I hope all goes well this weekend and your MIL gets transferred home happily. I enjoyed her company so much when you visited Vanc'r.
    Susan: Yes, exalted, almost sacred. . . that sense of the outside held just at bay . . .
    TNMA: It's actually quite lovely from outside as well, as a better photographer could show -- the way the undulating roof blends into the sky is captivating. And yes, this will be my problem as well: much as I'd like to get to Metz again, I'm likely to get waylaid by Paris.
    Mardel: It was very interesting, and I really wish we'd had time to do it justice.

  6. I have a Vietnamese hat with the same weave as this, the building is astonishingly beautiful, and I love it. It will definitely go on my must go to see list.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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