Alésia Museum Park - Interpretation centre | The Plan
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Alésia Museum Park - Interpretation centre

Bernard Tschumi Architects

Architecture in history-laden sites has to be conceived and built in acknowledgement of the special identity of place; physical form should give an insight into abstract significance and connection; the architectural programme should be able to give physical form to the layers of history implicit in a site. That raises the deeper, though no less essential, issue of the sort of statement an architectural project makes and how its inevitably concise and symbolic representation of history organises and moulds experience itself; how a specific architectural programme inevitably directs knowledge. 

This is especially pertinent at the deeply symbolic site of Alésia, in the rolling countryside of France’s magnificent Burgundy region, place of the final great battle in 52 B.C. between the Romans, led by Julius Caesar, and the Gallic armies of Vercingetorix. A mix of historical fact and legend, the siege of Alésia has come down to us as a famous act of warfare that changed the history of a country. By the same token, archaeological interest is laced with sentiments of national pride and historical perceptions.

Bernard Tschumi’s architectural programme had to tackle all these elements. Taking his cue from the landscape, Tschumi has steered a delicate path to accommodate scientific archaeological representation, producing an immediately recognisable architecture that also serves as a cultural medium. The programme accepts the implicit contradiction of celebrating and interpreting a battle that shaped history and divided people into victors and vanquished. The architectures slip effortlessly into the landscape. They contain elements that fade into nature alongside elements that stand out from their natural surrounds, as if to highlight these latent contradictions. 

The cultural programme comprises an “Interpretation Centre” where the historic event and its importance is narrated with a...

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