UK-based design firm Foster + Partners along with museum designer Adrien Gardere have been chosen to design a museum for showcasing Roman artefacts in Narbonne in the south of France.
Foster + Partners overcame competition from David Chipperfield Architects, Neutelings Riedijk Architecten, Jacques Ferrier Architectures and Auer + Weber + Assoziierte to win the contract.
The museum, called Musée de la Romanitée Narbonne, will feature galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, a multimedia education centre and library, as well as administration, restoration and storage facilities.
The facilities will be built over a single storey structure which will be unified beneath a concrete roof canopy.
The canopy will provide thermal mass to the structure while adding to the environmental sustainability of the building.
The museum’s design features an elevated concrete roof above a clerestory punctuated with light wells while the concrete canopy will cover a wide public plaza around the museum.
Foster + Partners senior partner and head of design Spencer de Grey said the design has been inspired by the setting, Narbonne’s climate and the city’s 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," Grey said. "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."
Musée de la Romanitée will be located on a site adjacent to the Canal du Midi, which features an amphitheatre for open-air displays and events.
The museums’s collection includes more than 1,000 ancient stone relief funerary blocks excavated in the nearby area.
The display of the funerary blocks will create a natural barrier at the heart of the rectilinear building, separating the public galleries from private restoration areas.
Visitors will be able to see the work of the archaeologists and researchers through its mosaic of stone and light.