Designed by Mateo Arquitectura, the proposal for the Lascaux IV: International Cave Painting Center competition speaks to us of its history and 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. The gentle slope of the entryway leads you to a space of darkness, which awakens a unique experience. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The challenge was to design a complete scale replica of the Lascaux cave, at Montignac, at the foot of the hill where the actual cave is situated. 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 sitespecific: 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
Architects: Mateo Arquitectura
Location: Montignac – Lascaux, Dordogne (France)
Author: Josep Lluís Mateo
BET TCE: Setec Bâtiment
Acoustics: Commins acoustics workshop
Surface: 8,180 m2 bâtiments + 6.5 Ha espaces extérieurs
Budget: 34,000,000 €