Alesia Museum and Archaelogical Park

Alesia Museum and Archaelogical Park

Architect
Bernard Tschumi Architects
Location
Alésia, France
Project Year
2009
Category
Museums
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
TilesCasalgrande Padana
ManufacturersKLEIN
ManufacturersPhilips Lighting Signify
ManufacturersKone
ManufacturersLegrand

Product Spec Sheet
Manufacturers
by KLEIN
Manufacturers
Manufacturers
by Kone
Manufacturers
by Legrand

Alesia Museum and Archaelogical Park

Bernard Tschumi Architects as Architects

The project marks an archeological site in central France and commemorates the history of the battle of Julius Cesar and the Gauls in 52B.C. Although all traces of the battle have been obliterated, the new museum recreates battlements and earthworks and provides interpretation for the area, which consists of several sites spread over a valley that contains a small medieval town.


The scheme consists of two separate, but related structures. One building is a museum, located at the position of the Gauls during the siege at the top of the hill above the town. A second building is an Interpretive Center located at the Roman position in the fields below the town. The Ministry of Culture wanted both buildings to appear as non-obtrusive as possible in their respective contexts. The museum is built of stones, similar in look to the town buildings, but with contemporary technology, and is buried partially into the hill so that from above it appears as an extension of the landscape. Visitors may go to the roof to view the surrounding landscape from the position that the Gauls did two thousand years ago.


The interpretative center is built of wood, much as the Roman fortifications would have been at the time of the siege. The roof of the building is a garden planted with trees and grass, camouflaging the presence of the building when seen from the town above. Visitors may look onto reconstructions of the Roman battlements from the roof garden, or stroll down a path to experience the reconstitutions first hand. A keen awareness of the surrounding landscape as it pertains to the historic battle is integral to the visitors’ experience.


The buildings relate to each other, even though they are separated by almost a kilometer. The context of the site is primarily the natural, verdant landscape of Burgundy and the medieval buildings of the town of Alise-Sainte-Reine. Therefore, the strategy suggested creating two buildings with a simple, cylindrical shape with a sufficient degree of abstraction so that it can be independently inserted in its context and yet provides the 360° panoramic view required by one of the buidlings. The envelopes adapt through materials to their surroundings, while the form of the buildings is deemphasized. By pairing the structures, committing to integrating the buildings with the landscape, and a simple round building typology, the buildings manage to defer to the battle site while fostering a sense of respect and awe through a muted formal presence.


Giving maximum presence to historical events and respecting the sensitive insertion of buildings into their natural environment responds to the ambition of the project while reflecting the imperative of “modesty” demanded by archaeologists. To be both visible and invisible is the paradox and challenge of the project.

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