Carrilho da Graça Arquitectos recently won the international competition for the protection project and musealization of the Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac, in Montréal-du-Gers, France. The project sets up a protective device and does not relate to a known typology that is a technical device with its own logic – a homogeneous-looking device that creates an event – which does not compete with the archaeological remains, but rather gives a new insight into the importance and influence of the villa. The event: to take this opportunity to give contemporary architecture its legitimate place in Gers. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The international competition with pre-selection was held by the s.i.v.u. Elusa-Séviac, which provided an opportunity to create a protection system for the villa’s ruins, whose mosaic pavements stand out as the most important element. The Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac, located in Montréal-du-Gers, in the Midi-Pyrénées region, was first discovered in the 19th century and was listed as a national heritage site in 1978. The excavations that took place over the last four decades unearthed the ruins of a roman villa, which reached its height during the late roman empire, in the third and fourth centuries ad.
Their project proposes the creation of a volume, a covering that hangs and melts in the air, over the plateau where the villa is situated. Its geometry was determined by the need to protect the more sensitive areas of the site, such as the mosaic pavements. the abstract character of the covering meets the intended purpose – its shape bears no resemblance to the existing structures, drawing a sharp distinction that highlights the roman ruins.
The covering is positioned 2.5 meters above the pavement and emphasizes a slight depression on the ground caused by the excavations. as a result, the unevenness of the archaeological remains is juxtaposed with the translucent and continuous surface of the covering. The vertical supports are placed in such a way that they do not interfere with the mosaic flooring areas and they sustain a metal truss system with a mean height of 2 meters. the structure is covered by translucent canvas which conveys an ambiance that is both volatile and stable.
The reception area introducing the theme – the Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac is a glass pavilion that encloses a building dating back to the late 20th century, which is located before the villa’s entrance and alongside the ancient roman road.