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Comps insider: Pompidou promises one more throw

France
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If you’re nursing 45-year-old wounds from Paris, and missed the last big opportunity in Metz, the Pompidou Centre has one more lifeline for you

The art museum, fulfilling its folkloric duty to the architectural community, has announced yet another international design competition – this time for a new outpost in Brussels.

The 30,000m2 gallery, which will focus on modern art, contemporary art and architecture, is expected to host up to one million visitors per year when it opens in 2020, and could become one of Europe’s great cultural landmarks.

But unlike Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano’s ground breaking Paris building, which replaced a car park, or Shigeru Ban’s tent-like Metz outpost (pictured), which signposted the city’s new 50ha regeneration zone, the Brussels scheme will have far less of a blank canvass.

The project will instead convert an Art Deco Citroën garage in a prominent city-centre location overlooking a canal. Though with more than 800 entries to the previous two contests it’s unlikely such a conversion – however challenging – will deter many from applying.

The situation couldn’t be more different for Winchester City Council, which is poised to restart the search for an architect for its station approach redevelopment just months after scrapping Hopkins’ competition-winning scheme.

After a humiliating U-turn forced by councillors who feared overdevelopment, the council’s cabinet will consider a revised brief for the two prominent city-centre sites and a new procurement route, harnessing the RIBA Competitions office, later this month (18 October).

Despite RIBA Competitions’ expertise, the debacle of the original contest – which saw three finalists withdraw amid concerns the procurement route was too restrictive, too expensive and the final project fee too low – may prove an obstacle for some; especially Hopkins and runner-up Design Engine, whose final bidding costs were thought to have reached about £100,000 each.

But with such enormous political pressure this time around, can lightning really strike twice?

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