Météo France is the national weather service of France. The principal research and forecasting facility, along with the national meteorological school is located in Toulouse in a complex known as the Météopole.
The architecture there is not your garden-variety series of homogeneous big boxes; buildings are round or have curved walls; hemispheres abound. Observation towers have trapezoidal observation decks. Parking lots are circular. Buildings are stepped like the missing half of ancient ziggurats. There is a profusion of colored panels and exoskeletons; some buildings look like what we imagine space stations to be like. Clearly, the intent was to create an overall "futuristic" feel.
If a gleaming spacecraft were to set itself down gently upon the great field between the campus and the rocade Arc-en-Ciel, nobody would blink an eye.
We have noted that an inverted pyramid decorates the entrance to the Météopole. Later ithe same month we observed that the neighboring DSNA building is also adorned with a pyramid--the sole ornamentation on an otherwise unremarkable boxy building. In that same post we wrote also about the Météo France logo: a triangle which seems to orbit a circle divided into light and dark halves. This would seem to use to represents the planet, divided literally into night and day by the sun, but also symbolically divided into black and white, as in a checkerboard. The triangle for us represents a satellite, an observing eye, a tool of measurement and thus control. It also hearkens back to the triangles which are often associated with the symbols of Revolutionary france; it has mystical connotations.
Seek and ye shall find! In the thick of all these encounters with pyramids and triangles we stumbled across a mundane object--an ashtray. This ashtray was an obelisk. The pyramidical cap punctuated by seven triangles through which to toss butts. OK, we know; let's not push it. This is no cosmic trigger. But have you even seen an ashtray such as this?
It would seems as though in an era where the funds flowed more freely, no expense was spared to ensure that the details were not overlooked. Even the ashtrays were conceived of with an eye towards the prevailing symbolism of the institution. Unless it's just a coincidence or the passing whim of some bored factotum in the purchasing department....
Then again, have you ever seen a trash can like the one pictured here? It's just unusual, clearly a product of some aesthetic reasoning above and beyond being merely functional. It's not even really the most efficient size and the expense of making it must be above and byond the standard garbage can.
But actually, all this reflection makes us sound a little more serious about all this than we actually are. It's funny, is all. Every visit to the Météopole reveals another detail which fits into the overarching symbolism of the whole. For what it's worth. At the very least an amusing coincidence.