• Nicole Reinders

Environmental Provisions through Programmatic Technologies

Updated: Jun 17, 2019



Heydar Aliyev Center

Modern architecture often makes a call to rethink how one perceives a building and the ways in which this thought is rendered among cultural, historical, and social aspects. With the space age preceding the energy crisis of the 1970’s, architecture took on the role of mirroring the technologies that propelled man into space while also proposing for the structure to encompass efficiency on a deeper level. Two structures, Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center and

Renzo Piano and Richard Roger’s Centre Pompidou take on different aspects of Reyner

Banham’s critiques on environmental provisions including the way the structures relate to their surrounding environment, how their programmatic technologies are displayed, and the way their interiors are laid out.


The Heydar Aliyev Center extends out of the landscape with fluid, continuous movements that allow for the interaction of the exterior plaza to the interior space. Participants freely move within the space, following the slopes and curvatures of the floors and walls. Similarly, the Centre Pompidou places it’s load bearing structures outside of the building, freeing up the floor plane for showcasing works of art or housing a variety of activities. The idea of fluidity is seen so prominently in the Heydar Aliyev Center for its use of unlimited continuous lines that extend from the natural environment to take shape at certain instances, wider for the theater, and shorter, smaller, to make up the hallways. The concept is used differently in Piano and Roger’s work as it is not the building that gives way to the term, fluidity, but for the flexibility in use that an open floor plan gives way to.


“The idea of fluidity is seen so prominently in the Heydar Aliyev Center for its use of unlimited continuous lines that extend from the natural environment to take shape at certain instances”

However, these two buildings are seen in stark contrast when following a strict code of honesty of expression in which the Centre Pompidou takes upon a, “flexible plan, exposed structure, plug-in services, glorification of machine technology”[1] as seen as the inside out approach of placing all systematic components exposed on the skin of the building. The materials are High Tech and new, consisting of iron, steel, and concrete and construct a new way of thinking by placing themselves outside of the box. From this, the workings of the structure are not hidden or a mystery, instead they became the decoration and, “attracted attention when they have made some gross monumental impact on the exterior aspect of buildings”[2] as seen by rearranging the inside components and making them the cladding of the structure. The Heydar Aliyev Center takes on the same principal of freeing up the ground plane. However, instead of placing all components on the outside of the building, the Center places the technology within the walls, as seen when the cladding absorbs the heat from the sun to light the interior space.


Centre Pompidou


These two structures make use of technologies to control the inside environment and the experiences one will have when making their way through the building. They both take the idea of open space and put it inside while, “making interior spaces larger, more comfortable, more controlled, and more difficult to escape.”[3] In this, both structures create an ideal environment on the interior. The Centre Pompidou does so by placing all components on the exterior and creating a public open space on the interior that allowed for flexibility and change. The exterior represents the composition of the structure, the Centre Pompidou houses art and thus its own façade is a controversial art piece. In some what the same fashion, the Heydar Aliyev Center enables a free form structure through a space frame system while using cladding to give off the feel as though the walls itself embodied the very music that was played within.


Reyner Bayham made a claim that architecture could do better to incorporate environmental provisions. He suggested in, “a new awareness that human and natural systems should be seen as entangled, as a complex arrangement of social and biotic inputs and outputs”.[4]

We see this in the way both buildings relate to their surrounding environments, Centre Pompidou calling attention to the purpose of placing the function of the structure to the outside and Heydar Aliyev Center using a fluid line to draw up from the surrounding country side and give a nod to the music found within. It also occurs in the way the programmatic technologies are displayed,

the Centre Pompidou’s on the outside as cladding, and the Heydar Aliyev Center placing their technologies within the walls to give way to an interactive experience. Lastly, both make use of

open floor plans to ensure that the structure’s functionality continues far into the future. In this, the structure allows for adaptation and calls to be resilient against change, environmental or cultural.


“ Centre Pompidou calling attention to the purpose of placing the function of the structure to the outside and Heydar Aliyev Center using a fluid line to draw up from the surrounding country side and give a nod to the music found within."



[1] Colin Davies, ”Introduction,” in High-Tech Architecture (New York: Rizzolu, 1988): 20


[2] Reyner Banahm, ”1. Unwarranted apology” in The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment (Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1969/1984): 12


[3] Sze Tsung Leong w/ Srdjan Jovanovich Weiss, “Air Conditioning,” in Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping (Koln: Taschen, 2001): 93


[4] Daniel Barber, “Introduction: Architecture, Technology, and Politics,” in A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016): 6


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