Pessac > archaeological pole

Pessac > archaeological pole

The Ausonius Centre is an archaeological complex at the heart of the Bordeaux university campus, next to the the Maison de l’Archéologie. The building was to be preceded by a long, elongated forecourt running from the Esplanade des Antilles to the trees to the south of the plot. The empty space standing before the new centre provided the architectural means of clearly voicing its identity when viewed from the Esplanade des Antilles and of staging its presence. The new complex had three different vocations: research, teaching and public understanding. The King Kong design brought all this together beneath one roof, in a compact, single volume whose architectural idiom clearly underscored their common denominator – archaeology. The design is also an ‘event’ in itself, producing an identifiable ‘territory,’ at once an independent building and shard cleaved from the neighbouring construction. By espousing the natural incline of the land (approximately 4%), the forecourt serves to highlight the overall perspective, seemingly raising the building onto a pedestal. As both a symbolic and functional space, it whets the visitor’s appetite as to the content of the building they are about to enter. At first sight, the new construction is somewhat opaque, with its façades of prefabricated concrete moulded with natural forms and clad in a delicate metallic mesh. Ample windows are cut into this outer skin, voluntarily blurring the onlooker’s perception of the building’s scale. The entrance lies in the axis of the forecourt and its façade is formed by a series of moveable panels which, once opened, lead onto a glazed hallway set back into the building’s main volume. The glazing also serves to create a number of display cabinets in which archaeological artefacts may be exhibited, thereby announcing the building’s inherent nature and letting natural light flood into the lobby. The rear façade is pierced with a succession of loopholes, allowing light into the labs and classrooms, while the ground floor is home not only to the entrance hall, but also to the museum space and consulting area. The stairways are relegated to each side of the building, thereby freeing up the museum space and greatly increasing its flexibility of usage. The auditorium, laboratories and classrooms are positioned upstairs. The auditorium was the object of an in-depth study to provide optimum viewing conditions from each of its 100 seats. Careful attention was also paid to the design of its walls and ceiling to guarantee excellent acoustics. The museum space has three sections – an exhibition area, a demonstration area and storerooms.
program
construction of an archaeological centre: museum spaces, auditorium and research laboratories
project management
atelier d’architecture King Kong, BEFS
client: Ministry of Education - Education Authority of Bordeaux
location: Pessac (33)
surface area: 1 000 m²
Cost (VAT included): 1 350 000 €
date: competition 2002
images/photos: D3îles
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