Bernard Tschumi Architects

Museum and Archaeological Park . Alésia

Bernard Tschumi Architects . photos © Iwan Baan . + baunetz

The scheme consists of two separate but related structures.

One building is a museum located at the position of the Gauls during the siege at the top of the hill above the town. A second building is an interpretive center located at the Roman position in the fields below. The museum is built of stones, similar in look to the town buildings but with contemporary technology, and is buried partially into the hill so that from above it appears as an extension of the landscape. The interpretative center is built of wood, much as the Roman fortifications would have been at the time of the siege. The roof of the building is a garden planted with trees and grass, camouflaging the presence of the building when seen from the town above. A keen awareness of the surrounding landscape as it pertains to the historic battle is integral to the visitors’ experience.

The project creates two buildings with a simple, cylindrical shape. The envelopes adapt through materials to their surroundings, while the form of the buildings is de-emphasized. By pairing the structures, committing to integrating the buildings with the landscape, and using a simple round building typology, the buildings manage to defer to the battle site while fostering a sense of respect and awe through a muted formal presence. The strategies of giving maximum presence to historical events and respecting the sensitive insertion of buildings into their natural environment respond to the ambition of the project while reflecting the imperative of modesty demanded by archaeologists. To be both visible and invisible is the paradox and challenge of the project.

Lead Designer: Bernard Tschumi. Key Personnel: Competition, Schematic Design, Design Development: Joel Rutten, Kim Starr, Rémy Cointet, Adam Dayem, Jane Kim, KJ Min, Adrien Durrmeyer, Matt Stofen, with Véronique Descharrières. Construction Documents, Site Supervision: Véronique Descharrières, Antoine Santiard, Rémy Cointet, Jean-Jacques Hubert. Landscape Architect: Michel Desvigne. Mechanical Engineer: Cabinet Choulet. Structural Engineer: AC Ingenierie

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