On reflection...

Monday 03 Dec 2012

Tokyo-based SANAA and New York-based Imrey Culbert complete Louvre-Lens

One of the most famous cultural institutions in the world, the Louvre, today celebrates the soft launch of its first satellite in Lens, Pas-de-Calais. The 300,000 sq ft building has been designed by Tokyo-based SANAA, young practice Imrey Studio in New York and Paris-based Mosbach Paysagistes. The official opening is scheduled for a week tomorrow on the 12 December 2012, but today, the institution will welcome a handful of journalists and photographers to explore its new €150m facility.

Of the new base, Celia Imrey, co-designer with Tim Culbert and Principal of Imrey Culbert, said: “Our design, reminiscent of the Louvre in Paris with its outstretched wings, was conceived to integrate the building into the park on a single accessible storey. Now that the project is complete, the ‘museum-park’ concept is finally a reality.”

It is not only the ‘outstretched wings’ of the Louvre-Lens that references the original Louvre in Paris, but the central glass pavilion which is described as ‘a variation on the pyramid of the Paris Louvre’. In essence, the satellite is formed of five individual one-storey pavilions connected by its corners. The entrance pavilion is a crystalline glass box while the others are coated in aluminium, reflecting the ever-changing sky above and the grassy landscaped surroundings.

Across the four aluminium pavilions is 75,000 sq ft of gallery space while the central glass pavilion provides the main reception area, multimedia library, museum store and cafeteria. The Introduction Gallery enables visitors to gaze downwards over the exhibitions below and storage areas which can be viewed in small tour groups. There is also a 300-seat auditorium for lectures and teaching programmes.

Imrey continues: “Inside the museum, we designed the main gallery wings to have natural daylight only from above. There are no windows. Between Sanaa in Japan, Imrey Culbert in New York and Paris, ARUP in London, and structural engineers Bollinger and Grohman in Frankfurt, the roof alone is a truly international accomplishment.”

In 2009, SANAA called on STUDIO ADRIEN GARDèRE to come up with the museum design layout and to decide where to place the artworks in all the exhibition spaces, storage rooms and, most importantly of all, in the Galerie du Temps. The STUDIO ADRIEN GARDèRE chose to remove any partitions within the museum in order to heighten the perception of the exceptional scale of the building (120m long and 25m wide) and give shape to the scientific project (which lays down a chronological route through 5,000 years of art history).

Design Team

• SANAA, Tokyo - Architect, Leaders of the Team, Co-Designers Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa
• IMREY CULBERT LP, New York - Co-Designers, Museography/Gallery Design Tim Culbert + Celia Imrey
• MOSBACH PAYSAGISTES, Paris - Landscape design, Co-Designers
• EXTRA MUROS, Paris / Antoine Belin, Lens - Operating architects
• Studio Adriene Gardere, Paris - Scenography/ Museography

Sian Disson
News Editor

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