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Largest Norman Foster retrospective opens in Paris

Le Viaduc de Millau, Millau (France), 1993-2004
Le Viaduc de Millau, Millau (France), 1993-2004 Copyright Foster + Partners, Photo : © Ben Johnson
Copyright Foster + Partners, Photo : © Ben Johnson
By Katy Dartford
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Six decades of works by the world renowned British architect who is often seen as a leader of the "high-tech" trend are now on display at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

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The largest retrospective of works by British architect, Norman Foster has opened at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, spanning the last six decades of his career.

Drawings, workbooks, scale models, prototypes and videos enable visitors to delve into 130 major projects on display in the centre, which itself is considered one of the first examples of the "High Tech" architectural trend that Foster helped pioneer.

The exhibition reviews the different periods of the architect’s work and highlights cutting-edge creations, such as the headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (Hong Kong, 1979-1986), the Carré d’Art (Nîmes, 1984-1993), Hong Kong International Airport (1992-1998) and Apple Park (Cupertino, United States, 2009-2017).

Foster + Partners, Photo : © James Morris
Carré d'Art, Nîmes (France), 1984-1993Foster + Partners, Photo : © James Morris

The architect’s work is explored through seven themes: Nature and Urbanity; Skin and Bones; Vertical City; History and Tradition; Planning and Place; Networks and Mobility and Future.

Photo : © Yukio Futagawa
Norman FosterPhoto : © Yukio Futagawa

Sources of inspiration for Foster, including Fernand Léger, Constantin Brancusi, Umberto Boccioni and Ai Wei Wei are also presented in the exhibition.

Foster's creations were influenced by his time working with American architect, Richard Buckminster Fuller, who founded the concept of combining technology with the environment. 

Foster + Partners, Photo : © Chuck Choi
Hearst Headquarter, New York (USA), 2000-2006Foster + Partners, Photo : © Chuck Choi

The exhibition traces these themes of sustainability and anticipation of the future:

"The birth of the practice in the 1960s coincided with the first signs of an awareness of the fragility of the planet. These were the green shoots of what would later be named The Green Movement," explains Foster.

"These principles may now be mainstream, but more than half a century ago, they were revolutionary and anticipated the reality of today. Throughout the decades, we have sought to challenge conventions, reinvent building types and demonstrate an architecture of light and lightness, inspired by nature, which can be about joy as well as being eco-friendly."

The exhibition runs until August 7, 2023, and is organised by the Centre Pompidou, with the participation of Foster + Partners and the Norman Foster Foundation.

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