MATEOarquitectura | Josep Lluís Mateo

Centre International de l'Art Pariétal . Montignac - Lascaux

MATEOarquitectura | Josep Lluís Mateo . video: © Luxigon

The Conseil Général de la Dordogne (France) recently organized a competition for the construction of Lascaux IV, a complete scale replica of the Lascaux cave, at Montignac, at the foot of the hill where the actual cave is situated.

“...any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes
are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or
from going into the light.”
Plato: “Allegory of the Cave”, The Republic, Book VII

From light to shadow: the forecourt
A gentle slope leads us into the earth and gradually accustoms our eyes to the dark.

There ... we are inside. Our only contact with the outside is the presence close by of the hill, an enduring mass that guards
the treasure within. Then there is the wood and, more vaguely, the sky.

The rock offers the invitation of a light-filled breach. It calls to us, to enter. To experience history as it happened-that of the
most spiritual discovery of the century. By way of a prelude, a long descent bordered by a mutant landscape leads us to
the entrance to the cave, under the taiga of the ice age.

The cave opens up to us. It lights up the timeless beauty of the raised figures with a tremulous light as we pass, fading
away behind us.

As we leave the cave, our shadows flicker in an ascending movement towards the daylight. Further on, the sun guides
our steps to the upper level.

Up there is another Lascaux-one that presents its walls as monolithic figures overlooking landscapes of yesterday and
today; one that is presented to our understanding, that invites us to live the experience, to do the right thing; one that
shows us what is concealed and reveals to us its secret. It speaks to us of its history, woven of enigmas that humankind
seeks to solve. It tells us that there are individuals who think, who prove, who suppose and interpret. Right beside, their
virtual doubles welcome us in small theatres sunk into the ground, facing the hill. Here, the staging employs a poetic
dialogue between archaic matter and intangible technology. It extends the masterly gesture of the anonymous artist.

To build this architecture, you have to open up the earth delicately, tread carefully on the hill, raise strong walls and lay
down thick slabs. You approach these operations with a primary logic, both archaic and contemporary. You touch the
ground attentively, letting groundwater follow its course. The walls and the structures are minimum, simple, and site-
specific: they have a tectonic presence.

Outwardly, the building expresses a telluric force. Its mineral quality resembles that of the Castle, or of the bridge over
the river Vézère.

The object of the space is to convey the emotion of Lascaux, the presence close at hand of something that is distant and
elusive. Here, “We must read the past as a future waiting to be discovered”.

Flowing towards the hill: the

Rising from the shadows: coming
out of the cave

The canyon of light: vertical
rising movement

The sequence of light and shadow, and the organization of the programme
A) From light to shadow: the forecourt
B) Flowing towards the hill: the entrance
C) Rising from the shadows: coming out of the
D) The shelters: the space of the masterpieces
E) The canyon of light: vertical rising movement
F) Between two landscapes: understanding
G) The topography: the Theatres of Prehistory
and Around the World in Cave Art
H) The gallery: a user-friendly space
I) The fissure: vertical descending movement

Josep Lluís Mateo.

Author: Josep Lluís Mateo
Location: Montignac - Lascaux, Dordogne (France)
Surface: 8.180 m2 bâtiments + 6.5 Ha espaces extérieurs
Budget: 34.000.000 €
Scenography: Projectiles
Landscape: D’ici-la
Multimedia: Reciproque
BET TCE: Setec Bâtiment
Acoustics: Commins acoustics workshop
Video: Luxigon

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