Foster + Partners was awarded first prize for their museum design in collaboration with Adrien Gardere for Narbonne in southern France. The museum’s central collection includes more than 1,000 ancient stone relief funerary blocks excavated from a nearby archaeological site, as Narbonne’s historical past as a vital Roman port has left an impressive legacy of buildings and ancient relics. Within the new design, Foster + Partners has created a wall to insert the stones that will act as a natural barrier to separate the public galleries from the more private restoration spaces. The building will also reinforce the strong landscape connection between water and gardens due to the site’s adjacency to the Canal du Midi. More about the museum design after the break.
The stone wall will serve as a great focal point for the galleries, allowing visitors to enjoy this amazing archaeological discovery in a setting that can be easily reconfigured and used as an active tool for learning.
In addition to the stone wall, the building incorporates galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, a multimedia education center and library, as well as administration, restoration and storage facilities. All spaces are organized beneath a concrete roof canopy, which provides thermal mass and contributes to a comprehensive environmental strategy. The canopy is elevated above a clerestory, punctuated with light wells and extends to shade a wide public plaza around the museum. “We have been inspired by the setting, by Narbonne’s climate and by the city’s fascinating collection of Roman artefacts. The gardens will strengthen the connection with the canal and surroundings, and at their heart will be a simple, energy efficient museum building. All of the internal and even some external walls can be rearranged – its flexibility mirrors the live excavation site, a shelter to accommodate the exploration within,” explained Spencer de Grey, Senior Partner and Head of Design at Foster + Partners.