Musée des Beaux-arts design by David Chipperfield Architects

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Architect: David Chipperfield Architects
Location: Reims, France
Client: Ville de Reims
User: Musée des Beaux-arts Reims
Project Team: Alexander Schwarz (Design director), Harald Müller (Managing director), Annette Flohrschütz (Project architect), Maria Busch, Anton Hahn, Christian Helfrich, Cyril Kriwan, Dalia Liksaite, Franziska Rusch, Thomas Schöpf

Competition: September 2011 – January 2012
Project start: 2012
Gross floor area: 14,000 m2

Exhibition design: Element GmbH – design & scenography, Basel
Services engineer: Otelio, Colmar
Lighting consultant: 8‘/18“ – Concepteurs et Plasticiens lumière, Paris
Structural engineer: O.T.E. Ingénierie, Illkirch
Building physics: O.T.E. Ingénierie, Illkirch
Fire protection consultant: O.T.E. Ingénierie, Illkirch
Quantity surveyor: O.T.E. Ingénierie, Illkirch
Renderings: David Chipperfield Architects

Arising from the historic town fortifications, David Chipperfield Architects’ new Musée des Beaux-arts is situated on the periphery of a long green space in between the old and new parts of Reims, France. The Gallo-Roman gate and the modernist market hall, located in its vicinity, are evidence of Reims’s architectural history from antiquity to modern times. Clad with marble slabs and glass ceramic panels, the translucent Musée des Beaux-arts building shares a site with an excavation area filled with mediaeval findings.

The freestanding building is composed of three bar-formed volumes with monopitched roofs. The translucent façade is clad with marble slabs at the plinth zone and glass ceramic panels in the upper area. A twelve metre high, self-supporting hall opens up to the city on three sides and spans the excavation site. The hall provides a publicly accessible transition space between inside and outside. The light falling through the translucent marble gives the space a unique atmosphere. Suspended, wooden bridges bring together the different approach routes and lead across the archaeological findings into the foyer overlooking the excavation site.

Cloakrooms, a café and an auditorium lead off from the foyer. The art depot is located in the two basement floors, while the exhibition rooms – displaying paintings, sculptures and objects from the 15th to 21st century – progress upwards in chronological sequence. The longitudinal main rooms can be divided flexibly. Smaller galleries, devoted to different artists or collectors, branch off from the main rooms. In addition to the sequence of galleries there are art education rooms and spaces where visitors can relax, offering views over the town. A library, sculpture garden and glimpses into the non-public restoration workshops round off the museum experience.

A large proportion of the exhibition space is naturally lit. Light-diffusing ceilings in the uppermost floor distribute the daylight evenly through the pitched roofs. The large, translucent façade areas in the first two floors make it possible to control the incidence of side light, the preferred lighting for the exhibits on display, while individual windows draw the visitor’s attention providing views up to the cathedral.

Source: David Chipperfield Architects/ David Chipperfield Architects
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