Dreaming the future: the Norman Foster exhibition
Centre Pompidou, Paris

Paris, France




For anyone with even a passing interest in modern architecture, the name of Norman Foster is synonymous with futuristic design and revolutionary principles at the vanguard of the sustainability movement. Foster’s visionary buildings have dramatically changed the skyline of modern cities across the world, incorporating inspirational forms from Nature and creating sleek, living, light-filled spaces for people.

The largest exhibition of Norman Foster's work to date, hosted by the Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2023, explores the development of some 130 projects. Spanning six decades and highly eclectic in scope, many of Foster's most iconic and innovative buildings and masterplans are featured, including the Millau Viaduct in France, The Reichstag in Berlin, and his more recent, and ongoing, work on the masterplan for a post-conflict Kharkiv in Ukraine through his Norman Foster Foundation.

The creative process is a major strand of the exhibition's narrative - stories are told through a host of revealing sketchbooks, drawings, images, original scale models and dioramas, along with many videos. Collectively they allow visitors to take a deep dive into the mind of a singular talent and the engine of a world-renowned architectural practice.

(c) Pablo Gómez-Ogando, Norman Foster Foundation

(c) Pablo Gómez-Ogando, Norman Foster Foundation

In Norman Foster's words: "Whilst designing the exhibition, it soon became evident that displaying the several hundred A4 sketch books and accompanying collection of film transparencies posed a problem, because there were no products on the market to answer those needs. Accordingly, with a small project team of designers based in the Madrid headquarters of the Norman Foster Foundation, I conceived a system that would not only answer the needs of the Pompidou show, but would have a wider universal application to museums, galleries, and libraries. I have always been impressed by Goppion's quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail, so we look forward to developing the system further with them.”

Last year Norman Foster shared his concept with Alessandro Goppion, and Goppion Technology was delighted to be asked to realize a series of table style display cases for the exhibition. The project comprised sixteen modular cases with internal lighting, and four modular cases with backlit decks. In the Pompidou exhibition, those cases display a wealth of A4 sketchbooks and transparencies. This collaboration has given rise to a new line of horizontal display cases called the WING, blending Goppion's expertise and technological know-how in display cases with the desired design and aesthetics envisioned by Norman Foster.

Designed by Norman Foster and a team from the Norman Foster Foundation and engineered by Goppion, the WING cases achieve a minimalistic appearance, while ensuring effective conservation performance in airtightness and climate control, as well as maximizing the legibility through lighting and inclination of the display decks. These display units can be installed individually, arranged in rows, as island displays, paired, or wall-mounted. Their high versatility allows for a wide range of possible unit combinations, enabling dynamic exhibition spaces that can be easily modified over time. This means the same display units can be used for multiple temporary exhibitions, making them highly durable and endlessly reusable products. Additionally, they are made entirely of recyclable materials and boast exceptional design.

At the close of the Pompidou's exhibit in August of 2023, the Wing cases will be moved to their permanent home at the Foster Foundation Headquarters in Madrid, demonstrating their versatility to adapt to different environments and uses over time – a testament to sustainable design.

(c) Pablo Gómez-Ogando, Norman Foster Foundation

(c) Pablo Gómez-Ogando, Norman Foster Foundation

Historically the relationship between Goppion and Foster and Partners has evolved over many years on projects ranging from Boston's MFA (2007) to the Cartier in Motion exhibition at London's Design Museum (2017) to the Roman Museum of Narbonne, Narbo Via (2021).

They continue to collaborate worldwide, including on the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi (expected 2025), to create eye-opening projects which conserve and enhance objects of a cultural heritage through an astute combination of architecture, technology and design."

To work with Norman means taking part in the most sophisticated level of architectural design, which he makes possible through the beauty of simplicity and the elegance of dialogue." – Alessandro Goppion.