Centre Culturel Tjibaou

Entertainment & Arts

Oceania, New Caledonia, Province Sud

The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano with the concept of celebrating the vernacular Kanak (also, Canaque) culture of New Caledonia. The centre is composed of 10 units called "cases," all of different sizes and different functions, but with the consistent form of vertically positioned shell-like structures which resemble the traditional huts of a Caledonian Village. They were given a deliberate "unfinished" appearance as a reminder that Kanak culture is still in the process of becoming - a belief held by the deceased Canaque leader, and inspiration for the site, Jean-Marie Tjibaou. This particular site lies amongst much political controversy. The island of New Caledonia was subject to French occupation and authority for over 100 years. Cultural leader, Jean-Marie Tjibaou was promoting Canaque independence at the time of his assassination by a Canaque extremist. After the assassination of Tjibaou, François Mitterrand, then French President, agreed to construct the Cultural Centre as the only Grand Project to be built outside of France. This was considered to be a "band-aid" by some, and an honest gesture by others in an attempt to quell local outcry and response.