Foster + Partners design Roman-inspired museum to house ancient treasures

by Kim Megson | 12 Nov 2015

Ground has been broken on the latest project from Foster + Partners; a museum in Narbonne in the south of France exhibiting a priceless collection of ancient Roman artefacts.

Archaeologists working in the city – which was once a major Roman port – have uncovered a treasure trove of ancient buildings and relics. Many of these will be housed in the Musée de la Romanité Narbonne (MuReNA), which has been designed by Norman Foster’s studio in collaboration with France’s Studio Adrien Gardère.

The architecture will particularly reference the museum's main attraction: 1,000 ancient stones bearing Roman funerary inscriptions.

MuReNA will be a simple, single-storey rectilinear structure featuring a natural barrier separating the public galleries from restoration spaces, where visitors will be able to glimpse archaeologists safeguarding the fragile exhibits. The 8,700sq m (93,600sq ft) museum will also house a multimedia education centre and a library.

A pre-cast concrete roof canopy will insulate the building and partly cover a wide public plaza surrounding the complex. This space – which takes its inspiration from formal French gardens and Roman courtyards – will contain an amphitheatre hosting open-air displays and educational events. From the plaza, guests will be able to access the nearby Canal du Midi.

“The building is inspired by the natural setting and the fascinating collection of Roman artefacts. It hopes to strengthen the connection with the landscape and the region’s incredible past,” said Spencer de Grey, co-head of design at Foster + Partners. “It will also be a major centre for research, restoration and interpretation of the antiquities of the wider region.”

Foster + Partners won a competition to design the museum for the local provincial government back in 2012. The firm is working on the project with structural engineer Oger International and landscape architect Urbalab. An expected completion date has not been revealed.

Ground has been broken on the latest project from Foster + Partners; a museum in Narbonne in the south of France exhibiting a priceless collection of ancient Roman artefacts. Archaeologists working in the city – which was once a major Roman port – have uncovered a treasure trove of ancient buildings and relics. Many of these will be housed in the Musée de la Romanité Narbonne (MuReNA), which has been
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The museum will house Narbonne's vast collection of Roman artefacts, including 1,000 funerary blocks / Foster + Partners
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