CLAD people

Elizabeth de Portzamparc, architect

Project - Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

Musée de la Romanité has opened in a futuristic new building in Nîmes, France – in contrast to the Roman amphitheatre next door.

Architect Elizabeth de Portzamparc is behind the striking, fluid design, which seeks to contrast the ancient heritage of the Arena of Nîmes amphitheatre with contemporary architecture.

The museum has a transparent ground floor from which visitors can view the arena, topped by a shimmering glass façade. From a distance, the building appears to be hovering above the ground.

“The Musée de la Romanité is the smallest of the public facilities I’ve worked on or am working on. It is nonetheless the most symbolic one and concentrates a great number of reflections and concepts that have always guided my work,” de Portzamparc told CLAD.

“It’s a good example of urban and very open architecture, a building designed for a precise site, for the city and its inhabitants. It’s a symbol of what I call urban architecture.”

Describing the fluid, rippling façade, de Portzamparc said: “The soft and horizontal undulations, the predominance of glass, the transparency and the lightness contrast with the verticality of the arena’s stone arches and the imposing mass that has stood there for nearly two millennia.

“As a result, on one side of the site, there is a large cylindrical volume surrounded by the Roman arches; on the other, a large square volume, which seems to be floating and entirely draped in a toga of pleated glass.”

The distinctive exterior supports 6,708 glass strips across a surface of 2,500sq m (27,000sq ft). Each holds seven screen-printed square tiles, created to evoke the Roman mosaics exhibited inside the museum and to create a sense of movement through the changing reflections of light during the day.

Inside, slender columns are distributed to maximise exhibition spaces and to form a monolithic ensemble without expansion joints. The flat surfaces of the interior simplify the primary building structure, allowing for free expression of the curves in the glass panels on the exterior.

In addition to galleries dedicated to Roman history in the city, there is a 180-capacity auditorium, a bookshop, a documentation centre, a restaurant, a café and 3,400sq m (36,600sq ft) of gardens. A roof terrace offers visitors a panoramic view over the entire city, with the arena in the foreground.

The building is complete and the museum’s opening is scheduled for June. It will exhibit 5,000 works, out of a collection of around 25,000 pieces.

The museum has been built to anchor the city’s cultural expansion, attracting tourists from home and abroad. The metropolitan government has provided €35.8m (US$42m, £32m) of the project’s total €59.5m (US$70m, £53m) budget.

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: FaulknerBrowns Architects
The design service we offer extends from initial feasibility studies through all the design stages to completion of the building on site, leading the design team and co-ordinating and managing the client and contractor teams.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Landscaping is an art form, and should be part of a contemporary discourse. It can be funny, ugly, emotional
Martha Schwartz
"No one is taking the issue of climate change seriously. Some bad things will have to happen before there is a change"

The outspoken landscape architect on climate change, bagels and being controversial

Centre culturel dédié au 7ème art
"A unique leisure destination in the Greater Paris of tomorrow"

The key cultural buildings for Paris’s controversial new leisure destination

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Fog is an Urban Experience, by Will Alsop, c.2007
Iain Watson, Simon Rawlings and Lewis Taylor
Dublin-born David Collins moved to London in the 1980s and founded David Collins Studio in 1985
"The Studio is such a big part of our lives, that it just continued, albeit through a very challenging period"

David Collins was behind the design of many of London’s hottest destinations Today his legacy lives on via the studio’s glamorous international projects

Meis argues integrated landscapes and natural materials promote green healthy lifestyles
Meis has helped design some of the world’s most successful stadiums
"It’s one of the tragedies of the US that so many of our stadiums get replaced after 20 years"

The Everton and AS Roma stadium architect talks through the challenges and rewards of sports facility design

features
Gabrielle Bullock studied architecture and fine art at the Rhode Island School of Design
"I’m one of 424 black female licensed architects in the US. We represent 0.2 per cent of the profession"

Architects must reflect the world they design for, says Perkins+Will’s director of global diversity

Thun begins his designs by creating vivid watercolours
Matteo Thun leads a design studio of over 70 people, with offices in Milan and Shanghai
"We want a longer life cycle for every product, even if it means business is slower"

Simplicity and sustainability should be at the heart of all design argues the Italian architect

cladkit product news
Ben van Berkel launches UNSense startup to boost health and wellbeing in built environments
Kim Megson
Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his design firm UNStudio have launched a tech startup to “improve the health and ...
Kvorning wins contest to design aquaculture exhibit at Norway's Coastal Museum
The exhibition explores the history of Norway's fish-farming industry dating back to 1970
Lauren Heath-Jones
Copenhagen-based design studio Kvorning Design and Norwegian advertising agency Vindfang have won a competition, organised by Museums in Sør Trøndelag ...
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
cladkit product news
Bright Buildings to create UK's first 'open sky' swimming pool
Bright Buildings will create the retractable roof for the Open Sky pool at Ivybridge Leisure Centre
Lauren Heath-Jones
Leisure operator Fusion Lifestyle has announced that it will invest millions of pounds over the course of the next three ...
Dornbracht debuts Rainmoon wellness shower concept at  Salone del Mobile
Rainmoon is a multi-sensory wellness experience designed to revitalise and reinvigorate the user
Lauren Heath-Jones
Dornbracht, a German-based luxury bathroom specialist, has launched an innovative new shower experience, Rainmoon. Slated as the next generation of ...
Carlo Ratti's 'wonder wall' robot could become reality with kickstarter campaign
Unveiled at Milan Design Week, as part of Ratti's Living Nature installation, the Scribit is the result of Ratti's ongoing investigation into and development of writing machines
Lauren Heath-Jones
Carlo Ratti Associatti has developed an intelligent robot capable of writing and drawing on vertical surfaces. Called Scribit, the device ...
cladkit product news
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
Parkside opens flagship Chelsea showroom
The showroom is designed to inspire its clients
Lauren Heath-Jones
Parkside, a designer of contemporary porcelain and ceramic tiles, has opened its first showroom in the UK. Located in Chelsea ...