Virtual Design Festival

We entered the Pompidou competition "against my will" says Richard Rogers in VDF lecture

In the second talk as part of our Virtual Design Festival collaboration with Architects, not Architecture, architect Richard Rogers discusses his reluctance to enter the Centre Pompidou competition and liking the Lloyd's building.

The idea behind Architects, not Architecture is for architects to discuss their path, influences and experiences.

In his lecture in November 2017, Rogers explained that he'd been told he couldn't use buildings for his talk, as the main rule of the series is that architects aren't allowed to discuss their projects.

Richard Rogers at Architects, not Architecture

"I said: That's like saying I can't use my two hands," Rogers said. "Architecture is part of me. And architecture is not just about buildings, it's about spaces and places."

Born in Florence, Rogers moved to England with his family and studied at the Architectural Association School in London, where he founded Richard Rogers Partnership with Su Rogers, now Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, in 1977.

As an architect, Rogers said, he is looking for "the potential for change, realising that the only concept we have in the 20th and 21st century is change."

One of Rogers' most famous buildings, the Centre Pompidou art gallery, embodies this sense of change – it was inspired by the political unrest in Paris in the 1960s.

His and Renzo Piano's design for the Centre Pompidou was the winner of an international competition held in 1971, which the pair won despite having only designed 14 projects.

Rogers and Piano's concept was selected from 681 entries and established their intentional reputations. However, he originally didn't want to take part in the competition.

"Against my will, we did the Pompidou competition," he said. "It was absolutely against my will, but being a good democrat I accepted that I was voted out by Renzo Piano, my wife and the engineers. And I did it."

He has fonder memories of the studio's building for insurance firm Lloyd's of London. "Lloyd's I liked. Pompidou was a low cost big shed, Lloyd's was a business. They wanted to be remembered, seen and known."

Rogers also discussed the need to create more sustainable cities, using his practice's masterplan for Shanghai as an example. "Energy-wise, the difference between a normal sprawling city and this is that we use about 25 per cent less energy," he said.

"So obviously in terms of sustainability, it's much higher."

Ending the talk with a quote by John Cage, Rogers concluded: "I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ideas."

Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners' recent work includes a "fortress-like" archive for the Louvre and a high-tech tower for the London School of Economics and Political Science.

About Architects, not Architecture

Architects, not Architecture is a lecture series founded by Fermin Tribaldos and Irene Osei-Poku in 2015 in Hamburg, Germany. For each event they invite three well-known architects who, instead of talking about their award-winning international projects, are asked to talk about themselves.

As a consequence of Covid-19, Architects, not Architecture has introduced its Home Edition 2020, which sees it open up its archive of full-length talks, which have never been published before and includes talks from Reiulf Ramstad, Francine Houben, Daniel Libeskind, Tatiana Bilbao, Peter Cook, Richard Rogers, Massimiliano Fuksas, Ben van Berkel, and others.

About Virtual Design Festival

Virtual Design Festival is the world's first online design festival, taking place from 15 April to 30 June. For more information, or to be added to the mailing list, contact us at [email protected]