1870 War Museum Of Gravelotte / France

1870 War Museum Of Gravelotte / France

Serero Architects
Gravelotte, France

1870 War Museum Of Gravelotte / France

Serero Architects as Architects


“... The intensity of the firings which took place on August 18th, 1870 in Gravelotte between Prussian and French troops marks a new era in armed conflicts of world history. If the traces of these bombing disappeared in the surroundings fields buried by time, the violence of this fight is still perceptible by the impact, they left on the walls of our cities, on our monuments, by their perforated surface, and which immediately make us think about the impact, they would have had on our own body.

Ruins have something fascinating. This condition setup a strong ambiguity between inside and outside, between solidity and fragility, past and present… the ruins of the Hadrien’s villa, the pile of bricks of Warsaw’s buildings after the second war. The destruction of a building beyond its social horror, always plunges us into a questioning on the uncertainty of the life and the fragility of our condition.

Our proposition for the new War museum of Gravelotte stages the violence of the fights, by appropriating the traces of the war to transform them into an architectural effect. In the lobby volume, which structures the whole museum, we conceived an architectural device, consisting of random perforations of the walls and roof of the museum to let penetrate natural light and on the other hand a "collapse" of the roof into the hall. The natural light plays here a fondamental role in the perception of the museum spaces. It is channelled by a system of hundreds perforation of different sizes and forms. Such as light "cannon", they bombard the space of the hall of a rain of sunrays, which the intensity and direction vary according to the hour of the day. Each August 18th generates an alignment between sunrays and traces on the ground.


Our project for the new museum of Gravelotte, like the military cemetery on the other side of the avenue, is characterized by a minimalist presence, a volume of sharp edges, and a golden color which recalls the Jaumont stone of walls and memorials of 1870 war. The building is set back on the westside of the site, to create a pedestrian walkway, which leads to the rest of the visit to the real battlefields of Gravelotte.

The museum opens up at the level of the reception hall by a large glass curtain wall onto the public plazza. The geometry of the building, a square with two cut sides, allows to align the facades of the museum with two views of the site: the view on the hitorical hall of memory and the view on the Gravelotte’s battlefields.


The new museum of Gravelotte is a building of high energy and environmental performance: - The foliage of street trees of offer a natural solar protection in summer and an increase of solar heat in winter (deciduous leaf) - Building Compacity (very low volume/surface ratio of a square shape, like the project ) with a strong thermic inertia linked to the stone floor of building. - Reduction and optimization of glass surface of facade to limit the heat loss a nd solar heating in winter. - At the end of the day, lamps installed in light perforations and controlled by photosensitive cells compensate gradually the lack of natural light. - The southern side of the roof offers an important sun exposed surface, which integrates solar panels to supply the hot water cosumed by building for 300 days a year. Furthermore, photovoltaic panels on this side allow to compensate a part of the electrical energy consumed by the building in a renewable way.... "

Project team
A.A. Hijmans van den Bergh building Utrecht University
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A.A. Hijmans van den Bergh building Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands - Build completed in 2005
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