The city of Nîmes needs a new museum for its roman artefacts. The archaeological museum has no more space for them and there is an entire collection of restored pieces waiting to be exposed. The strong presence of roman culture in the city guides the city towards the idea of building an entire “home” for it: a place where one can not only visit the museum but can also read about roman culture, study it and share with others about it.
The selected plot is located next to the Arena of Nîmes, the biggest roman artefact in the city as well as one of the most well preserved roman arenas in the world. Like other roman buildings in the city its simple geometric shape disconnects it from the surrounding urban network. Those observations lead to the creation of a cubic shape for the new Home of roman culture. Using simple geometry and building on the same height as the arena creates a strong relation to it. Similarly to the limestone used in roman architecture the weathering steel used for the new building’s facades ages and leaves marks with time by darkening its color.
While simple on the outside, the inside of the project is an interlacement of concrete walls and slabs into a giant dynamic open space. Each floor has its own function, and public and private spaces are clearly separated. Visitors can enjoy a permanent exhibition, temporary exhibitions, conferences, concerts, ateliers, library, restaurant and cafes. The connection between the different floors is done by a monumental concrete staircase in the center of the plan that reflects the bigness of ancient roman architecture.
The richness of the project lies in the strong contrast between the inside and the outside: the outside is seeking a connection with nearby roman buildings while the inside offers a giant, almost sacred space, bathed in light and dedicated to contemplate roman culture.