Centre Pompidou-MetzThe Architecture

The roof is a major achievement: a 90-metre wide hexagon echoing the building’s floor map, with wooden beams spaced 2.90 metres apart in a hexagonal pattern evoking the woven structure of a Chinese hat.

The meshtoiture

The structure is composed of glue laminated timber, making it highly resistant and enabling uncommon lengths. Two layers are superimposed in three different directions across the hexagonal structure.

This mesh enables the roof to span approximately 40 metres, and to make the roof a self-supporting component, resting on only a few supporting parts.

The roof’s geometry is irregular, featuring curves and counter-curves over the entire building, and in particular the three exhibition galleries. This wooden roof structure is one of the largest and most complex built to date. Aeraulic wind tunnel studies determined its performance.

Incidentally, the roof structure was inspired by a Chinese hat found in Paris by Shigeru Ban.


The protective cover

Imitating this kind of hat, the entire wooden structure is covered with a protective fabric, a fibreglass and teflon membrane.

This waterproof material creates a naturally temperate environment, helping satisfy the building’s demanding energy requirements and ensuring that works of art are exposed and conserved in the best possible conditions.


Roofing tests

The highly complex roof is exceptional in its shape, size (8,000 m2) and construction technique. Aeraulic surveys were conducted in late 2005 to test the technical performance of this massive roof, designed to shelter the exhibition spaces.

The Centre Pompidou-Metz’s spectacular roof has been studied from every angle. Following an international call to tender in 2005, Nantes’ CSTB (Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment) was selected to carry out three types of analysis: actions of snow, characteristics and effects of wind, and comfort in wind.


An internationally recognised specialist, the CSTB is one of France’s few service providers in this field and has participated in major projects such as the Millau road bridge, the Arche de la Défense and sky-scrapers in the USA. The CSTB has analysed local meteorological data, before building three models fitted with copper sensors. The actual tests began in December 2005.




Buffeted by huge ventilators and snow cannons in the Jules Verne wind tunnel in Nantes, the future Centre Pompidou-Metz was exposed to extreme conditions. Eight series of measures were conducted to study the incidence of wind on the building, but also on its environment, in particular to analyse the repercussions on visitors. Another model was subjected to snowfall and to -15°C temperatures for several days. Technicians cut it up to quantify the snow accumulated on the various parts of the roof.