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SANAA Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa


A low, easily accessed complex,that integrates harmoniously into the surrounding landscape without dominating it. Conceived by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA as new branch of the Musée du Louvre, the Louvre-Lens occupies a former coal mine and demonstrates a desire to redevelop the site while also recalling its industrial past. The museum complex comprises five glass and steel buildings spread over an area of twenty hectares: four are rectangular designs while the fifth is a square structure. The slightly curved walls of the rectangular blocks reflect the slope of the site and generate a subtle distortion of the internal spaces, in so doing setting up an unusual relationship between visitors and the artworks. This relationship is underscored by the design that allows the greatest amount of natural light possible into the building, this projecting reflections of both the works and visitors onto the aluminium walls to create an ever-changing experience for the viewer. Direct light is filtered through the roof by vivid perforated sheet aluminium and roller blinds, which combine to create a surface that responds to changing light conditions and the seasons of the year. To emphasize the continuity between landscape and architecture that underpins the design, the central pavilion – which includes the entrance foyer, is fully glazed and visible from every point on the site – creates an empty space at the centre of the complex. It is intended to be a public space for the residents of Lens, who can pass through here on their way to different parts of the city. To the east of the entrance is the Galerie du Temps, which houses a changing collection of exhibits from the Louvre, and the Pavillon de Verre. To the west are the Galerie d’Exposition Temporaire and Scène, a large auditorium whose program closely reflects the works on display. Another two independent structures, the administration building to the south and a restaurant to the north, complete the complex while also acting as a connecting link between the museum, the park and the city. The works displayed in La Galerie du Temps are presented without any distinction between type, period, or culture, giving visitors a chance to establish a new relationship with, and new ways of perceiving, a visit to a museum. The park is an essential part of the museum’s identity, contributing to the richness of the visitor experience. It brings together different treatments of natural spaces with the aim of catering to the variety of functions they perform, namely, guiding visitors towards the museum via pathways that follow tracks once used for transporting coal, extending the museum out beyond its walls by staging open air cultural events, and creating spaces for recreation and relaxation that the residents of Lens and the surrounding areas can feel are their own.

Location: Lens, France
Client: Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Completion: 2012
Gross Floor Area: 28 000 m2
Cost of Construction: 150.000.000 Euros
Architects: SANAA
Landscape Architect: Mosbach Paysagistes
Museography: Studio Adrien Gardère, Imrey Culbert (2006-2008)

Structural, Plant:
Betom Ingénierie
Metal Structure, Façade: Bollinger + Grohmann
Structure Concept: SAPS / Sasaki and Partners
Lighting: Arup Lighting
Energy Concept: Transplan
High Quality Environmental Standard: Penicaud Architcture Environment
Acoustic: Avel Acoustique

Photography: 1-4-6-9-11 © Hisao Suzuki, 2-3-7-8-10-12/16 © Iwan Baan, 17/20 © Mosbach Paysagistes
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