Lascaux IV: Cave Painting Centre by
Snøhetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann

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Here are some images of the competition-winning proposals by Snøhetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann for a visitor complex at the Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, France.

Lascaux IV Cave Painting Centre by Snohetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann

A subterranean complex of tunnels and chambers will surround the historic paintings, estimated to be 17,300 years old, creating a low-rise building that folds up from the landscape.

Lascaux IV Cave Painting Centre by Snohetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann

The Lascaux cave paintings were first discovered in 1940, but have been closed to the public since 1963 after the carbon dioxide produced by visitors caused the images to visibly deteriorate.

Lascaux IV Cave Painting Centre by Snøhetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann

Architects Snøhetta and Duncan Lewis worked alongside exhibition designers Casson Mann to develop a protective environment for the paintings, which mostly depict historic animals.

Lascaux IV Cave Painting Centre by Snøhetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann

Sliced openings in the roof will allow shafts of sunlight to filter gently into the cave interiors. Casson Mann designed these spaces first and the architects planned the rest of the building around them.

Lascaux IV Cave Painting Centre by Snøhetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann

The Lascaux IV cave painting centre is set to open in 2015 and is expected to attract up to 400,000 visitors a year.

Lascaux IV Cave Painting Centre by Snøhetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann

Norwegian studio Snøhetta is also currently working on a waterside opera house in South Korea and a Maggie's Centre for cancer care in Scotland. See more architecture by Snøhetta on Dezeen.

Here's a short description from Casson Mann:


A team comprising exhibition designers Casson Mann, Snøhetta and Duncan Lewis have won the prestigious Lascaux IV: International Cave Painting Center competition.

The team won against several of Europe's leading architects including Mateo Arquitectura, Auer+Weber and Jean Nouvel.

With a budget of €50million, Lascaux IV has been initiated to conserve the integrity of the original cave complex, permanently closed to the public since 1963, while ensuring that the public can still appreciate the remarkable Paleolithic paintings within. It is part of a strategy to establish this world heritage site and the Dordogne region of France as an internationally culturally and scientifically significant attraction in terms of access to, understanding and conservation of parietal art.

Speaking about Casson Mann's winning design, Jury member Bernard Cazeau, Président du Conseil Général de la Dordogne, said: "From the point of view of the scenography – which was, in our eyes an essential factor – it's the most successful project."

The winning concept expects to welcome 400,000 visitors per year and includes a low profile exterior that reflects the contours of the limestone topography and a dramatic interior designed to transport the visitor into a cave complex complete with tunnels, cavernous spaces and chambers lit by shafts of broken sunlight.

Project Team:
Architecture: Snøhetta + Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture
Scenography: Casson Mann
Multi-media: Jangled Nerves
Cost Consultant: VPEAS
Structural Engineering: Kephren
Environmental Engineering: Alto Ingénierie
Lighting: 8'18'' Conception lumière
Sound: Daniel Commins

Location: Montignac, FRANCE
CLient: Conseil Général de la Dordogne

Surface Area:
Total floor area: 8605 sqm
Facsimile: 1600 sqm
Site: 65,770 sqm

  • carl

    I thought that the guys were holding lightsabers in the second image.

  • mik

    The light looks like it is holding or pulling the rocks. The holes are silly and not neutral to the exposed rocks.

    And flashlights? Wow, my guess is that they were drunk before the deadline because this is just silly. Or maybe I just can’t understand. That’s probably the case.

  • Nick

    I understand where this comes from and where it’s trying to go. I just don’t think that this proposal delivers the mystery, spirituality, magnificence and humility that, in my opinion, permeate Paleolithic cave art.

    It lacks conceptuality whereas the subject required lots of it. I can tell that they tried to get an understanding and knowledge of the subject before designing this proposal, but to me it’s not adapt to inform the world about one of the greatest artistic works ever made.

  • Jedi

    Luke Skywalker went to the museum :)

  • Rob

    Perhaps the competition film should have been submitted with this. Might help make sense of it all. http://vimeo.com/54355225#