Musee des Confluences by Coop Himmelb(l)au nears completion
Integrating the fields of technology, biology and ethics, coop himmelb(l)au‘s ‘musée des confluences‘ is envisioned as a ‘crystal cloud of knowledge’ blurring divisions between subject areas and focusing on the society of the future. located at the confluence of two rivers in the french city of lyon, the themes of contrast and divergence are characterized in the architecture of the design, fusing together separate entities to form a new dynamic structure. the building is an entirely public facility, functioning as both a museum and as an urban leisure space and is expected to be completed by 2014.
Site area: 20,975 sqm Gross floor area: 46,476 sqm Net floor: 29,700 sqm Visitors per year: 500,000 coop himmelb(l)au: wolf d. prix, helmut swiczinsky + partner Design principal: wolf d. prix Project partner: markus prossnigg Project architects: mona bayr, angus schoenberger Project coordination: thomas margaretha, peter grell Project team vienna: christopher beccone, guy bébié, lorenz bürgi, wolfgang fiel, kai hellat, robert haranza, alex jackson, georg kolmayr, daniel kerbler, lucas kulnig, andreas mieling, marianna milioni, andrea schöning, mario schwary, markus schwarz, oliver tessmann, dionicio valdez, philipp vogt, markus wings, tom wiscombe, christoph ziegler, jutta schädler Project team lyon: francois texier, philippe folliasson, etienne champenois, alexandru gheorghe, niels hiller, emanuele iacono, pierre-yves six
The design features three primary components, ‘the plinth’, ‘the crystal’ and ‘the cloud’. ‘the plinth’, situated beneath the main entrance of the museum, houses auditoriums, meeting rooms and technical areas. above, the fully glazed ‘crystal’ is oriented towards the town, welcoming visitors and serving as a public space. large panes of glass are mounted within steel frames, drawing in vast quantities of natural light.
Contrasting the precise contours of ‘the crystal’, ‘the cloud’ has been constructed to resemble a spaceship stationed above the building. programmed across three levels, three permanent and seven temporary exhibition galleries are connected with a fluid circulation route. the configuration of the exhibition halls further establish the themes of variance and complexity, with enclosed black boxes alternating with open gallery areas.
The Musée des Confluences understands itself not as an exclusive “Temple of the Muses” for the educated elite, but as a public gateway to the knowledge of our time. It stimulates a direct, active use—not only as a place of contemplation, but also as a meeting place in the city.
The striking interface situation of the construction site at the eponymous confluence of the Rhône and the Saône inspired the superposition in urban space of two complexly linked architectural units, crystal and cloud. The cloud structure, floating on pillars, contains a spatial sequence of black boxes— admitting no daylight, so as to achieve maximum flexibility for exhibition design.
By contrast, the crystal, rising towards the city side, functions as a transparent urban forum; it faces the city and receives visitors.
Also decisive in the selection of this concept was the manifold connection of these two units through the Espace Liant: It leads in a loop, as a corridor or over bridges and catwalks, from the crystal to the other end of the cloud. It functions as an additional means of access between the exhibition spaces that are directly connected to one another—a mellow space of hidden currents and countless transitions.
In a continuation of the park from the southern tip of the island, an expansion of the urban space is formulated: a landscape of ramps and levels that dissolve the boundary between inside and outside into a dynamic sequence of spatial events. This movement continues on the inside in the alternating spatial structure of the exhibition spaces.