David Chipperfield Architects has been selected to design a new museum in Reims, France, for a comprehensive collection of paintings, sculptures and objects from the 15th to the 21st century. An experienced museum and art gallery architect, David Chipperfield has completed a string of high profile projects across the world, including the Turner Contemporary in Margate, UK, the Museum Folkwang in Essen, and the Neues Museum in Berlin.
Chipperfield’s latest competition win is the Musee des Beaux-Arts and is destined to sit on a narrow plot of verdant grass on the fortifications between the old and new portions of the town. Also located at the plot is an excavation site where archaeologists have discovered a number of mediaeval artefacts.
Inside the museum, visitors will find a number of exhibition spaces leading through the building with the displays set out in chronological order. Supporting these flexible exhibition spaces is a café and auditorium with art education rooms and a smattering of smaller galleries for the works of different artists and collectors. A sculpture garden is also on the cards, as is a library.
Efforts have been made to draw connections between the visitors to the museum and the exhibited artefacts, with glimpses afforded into the non-public restoration workshops and wooden bridges extending across the atrium over archaeological findings in the foyer. This lobby brings together visitors from each of the three bar-formed volumes into a central space, twelve metres in height which offers a ‘transition space between inside and outside’.
From an external perspective the building sports a monopitched roof and a sheer façade clad with marble panels at the plinth zone and glass ceramic slabs in the upper regions. The architects detail: “A large proportion of the exhibition space is naturally lit. Light-diffusing ceilings in the uppermost floor distribute the daylight evenly through the pitched roofs. The large, translucent façade areas in the first two floors make it possible to control the incidence of side light, the preferred lighting for the exhibits on display, while individual windows draw the visitor’s attention providing views up to the cathedral.”