L’Atelier des enfants at the Centre Pompidou has been up and running from 10th July in the new area designed by Mathieu Lehanneur. It now offers a more spacious setting (300m2), which is better adapted to activities for children aged from 2 to 12 years. With its rounded corners, a direct allusion to a skate park as recreational scenery, the preview last Saturday confirmed the delighted ease with which the children became immersed in the venue!

I wanted to give children the immediate impression on entering the ‘Ateliers’ of an area without limits or constraints. I wanted them to feel like they were on a huge white sheet that needed to be filled. In all of my first sketches, I had an image of a skate-park in my mind for children-artists: an object-space which is experienced like a game. A far cry from the school universe. Floors and walls blend into one here and everything can be filled. Here, everything necessary to create is accessible but nothing is visible. Here the areas are so open that everything needs to be invented...” Mathieu Lehanneur

L’Atelier des enfants comprises three areas: a workshop area dedicated to the youngest children from 2 to 5 years; a ‘workshop about an artist’ area for children from 6 to 12 years; and, lastly, a multipurpose area. Designed and equipped to accommodate any type of activity (practical work on the floor, walls, in the space, visual and sound installations, choreographic sessions…), the area includes a secure entrance, a rest area, allowing room for children to be welcomed for which the designer designed a continuous wall seat, alcoves and a wall of ‘senses’, where all that is needed is at the disposal of the children, guided by leaders to stimulate their creativity.

A pioneer in 1977, the Centre Pompidou has since been watched and modelled by all the big museums around the world for its mediation policy and programmes for the young public. An artistic educational dream for children between the ages of 2-12 years, the Centre Pompidou is able to constantly renew this reality, a real-life experience of artistic practice and acts. Each year, the workshops at the Centre Pompidou welcome 23,000 children who try out different artistic techniques and learn to immerse themselves in the universe of an artist.

A t the end of August 2010, the centre will unveil the Ado area, the second part of the site entrusted to Mathieu Lehanneur for his ability to integrate our behavioural needs in architectural areas which are equally incontestable as they are functional.

Copyright photos Hervé Véronèse, 2010