On June 26 of this year, Steven Holl’s Museum of Ocean and Surf opened in Biarritz, France, and we recently learned that the building has been named the Public Building of the Year by the 2011 Emirates Glass LEAF Awards. Designed in collaboration with Solange Fabião, the museum has a strong connection between the sea and the built environment both on the programmatic level as the museum serves as a “teaching tool” to educate people about the health of the ocean, and on a formal level as the massing was conceptually influenced by “ under the sky and under the sea.” Yesterday, we shared an amazing clip from our interview with Steven Holl about the museum – check it out and tell us your thoughts on the project.
More about the project after the break.
The museum’s concave form greats a “cup-like” condition which serves as a public plaza, open to the sky and with great views of the sea. Inside the museum, this inverse convex curve becomes the ceiling of the main exhibition space, evoking the sense of being “under the sea.” As with most, if not all, Holl projects, the museum plays with different light qualities and upon entering the building, light runs along the curved surface and reflects into the galleries below.
The restaurant and the surfer’s kiosk sit in two “glass rocks” which seek to activate the central outdoor plaza and connect analogically to the two great boulders on the beach in the distance.
The white Okalux insulating glass is like the “foam of the sea,” and the exposed white concrete of the building exterior has a soft shell-like texture.
The jury stated, “It is designed as a set of simple, low, geometric enclosures, for a permanent collection and exhibition areas with a rolling plaza. These evoke the mystery of the sea and by night glow like fragments. The project achieves a good, seamless connection with its coastal landscape. This is a poetic gestural design sitting between land and sea, and bringing together the best of both.”