Centre du Plateau Beaubourg
The competition entry for the design of a major cultural centre for the Place Beaubourg in Paris in 1971 was produced in conjunction with a design studio and 14 students at the Yale School of Art and Architecture. The rectangular site, situated in Les Halles district, was bound by rue St- Martin, rue de Renard, rue St-Merri, and rue Rambuteau.
Safdie’s design combines two planes sloping gradually towards the centre with asymmetrical terraces or sub-levels to create a kind of semi-transparent bowl that makes use of urban features and facilitates a broad view outwards from the interior. The terraces crowning these two planes support a roof garden for the neighbourhood, changing character according to the seasons. One cantilevered wing holds the library, the other the art museum.
The museum, reception and current events are located in the plaza at street level. The contemporary art gallery and temporary exhibits are one level directly below visible yet sheltered by large glazed roofing. The industrial design spaces, which consist of the permanent gallery, documentation centre and the cafeteria, are placed around the periphery of the bowl. These terraces are also glazed and visible from the street and level above. The special documentation and research centre along with the theatre and meeting spaces form the activities at the bottom of the bowl.