Stanton Williams' Musée d’Art in Nantes receives planning permission
Stanton Williams’ €49m scheme for the Musée d’Art in Nantes, has received planning permission. In autumn 2009, the practice won an international competition to transform the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, one of the leading regional galleries in France. Phase 1 of the project will start on site in October 2011 and is due for completion in autumn 2013.
The museum will be comprehensively renovated, while an adjacent site will house a new 5,800 sq m extension for the display of twenty-first century art, as well as administrative and curatorial facilities and an external sculpture court. It will be known upon completion as the Musée d’Art de Nantes. The project aims to transform the image of the museum from a closed and introverted institution to one which engages fully with its urban context, whose presence in the cityscape will be more strongly asserted.
The design strategy creates an architectural and cultural promenade whilst also improving the relationship between the museum and its setting. Visitors will begin their journey in a series of improved public spaces around the museum, with sculptural installations taking the museum into the street. Visual connections will be created between the refurbished galleries of the original museum, drawing visitors through the spaces.
The new building responds to its context through its materials and scale. Above a marble plinth, marmarino plaster is used to create a smooth effect akin to that of the local stone, resulting in a monolithic quality and a sense that the building has been carved from a single block of stone. Large openings provide glimpses into the galleries from the street, animating the museum’s setting. Reflecting local practice, a consistent materials palette is used inside and out. The result will be a building, which defines a new image for the museum, yet is firmly rooted in its surroundings.
When complete in 2013, the new and refurbished buildings will shape a new identity for the museum, clearly expressing its different functions. The treatment of their elevations, in terms of scale, massing, and the provision of openings, will relate the museum better to its context, offering a welcoming setting for the Grand Musée d’Art.