Winning design by Imrey Culbert and Sanaa will be realised by 2012
Co-designed by Imrey Culbert, Sanaa and Mosbach Paysagistes, the new Louvre-LENS has broken ground on an abandoned mine field near the city of Lille in Northern France. The new branch of the museum will span 27,870 sq m of new construction, devoting over 6,970 sq m of galleries and visitable storage areas for hundreds of treasures from the Louvre’s collection.
Celia Imrey, a principal of Imrey Culbert said: “To be a part of the laying of the first stone ceremony, with my co-designers, France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand, officials from the Louvre and former mine workers gave me a sense of how important this new museum is, not only as a cultural destination, but also as a key factor in the renaissance of a town that has seen much suffering from mining and war.”
The 153 acre site selected for the Louvre-LENS is slightly higher than its surrounding. As a result, the design strategy calls for a series of five pavilions – low one-storey structures that will dissolve into the landscape rather than overpower it. All of the buildings, whether reflective or transparent, meander slightly along with the gentle curves of the site. Highly reflective polished and anodized aluminum façade will clad the volumes, creating blurred reflections of the surroundings.
Imrey continued: “The design is said to be reminiscent of the Louvre in Paris with its two outstretched wings. We conceived this new Louvre to be everything the Palais Louvre is not, and sought to create transparency both literally and figuratively.”
The two easternmost pavilions are the principal exhibition halls, one being the opaque Galerie du Temps (Gallery of Time) – a semi-permanent exhibition of artworks regardless of styles and places of origin and arranged in chronological order. The centre pavilion, a square glass volume, will serve as the main reception area and a public space for the local population and will house a multimedia library, museum store and cafeteria. An Introductory Gallery, accessible via a large staircase, is a place where visitors can peer down onto the museum’s reserves and the studios where artworks are prepared for display. The next pavilion will house temporary exhibitions, and the final will house a 300-seat auditorium.