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New Design Project for Foster + Partners: Musée de la Romanitée Narbonne

Foster + Partners is to design a new museum for Roman artefacts in the city of Narbonne, southern France. This opportunity was taken after following an international competition. The project will be in collaboration with museum designer Adrien Gardere.

As a vital Roman port, Narbonne has an impressive legacy of buildings, ancient relics and archaeological sites. The centrepiece of the museum is a collection of more than 1,000 ancient stone relief funerary blocks excavated nearby. Their display forms a natural barrier at the heart of the simple, rectilinear building, separating the public galleries from the more private restoration spaces. Visitors will be able to glimpse the work of the archaeologists and researchers through its mosaic of stone and light, and the flexible display framework allows the reliefs to be easily reconfigured and used as an active tool for learning, it's explained in Foster + Partners' press release.

The building incorporates:
• galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions
• a multimedia education centre and library
• administration facilities
• restoration facilities
• storage facilities

These spaces are arranged over a single storey and are unified beneath a concrete roof canopy, which provides thermal mass and contributes to a comprehensive environmental strategy. The canopy is elevated above a clerestory, punctuated with light wells and extends to shade a wide public plaza around the museum.

Spencer de Grey, Senior Partner and Head of Design at Foster + Partners describes the project like this: "We have been inspired by the setting, by Narbonne’s climate and by the city’s fascinating collection of Roman artefacts. The gardens will strengthen the connection with the canal and surroundings, and at their heart will be a simple, energy efficient museum building. All of the internal and even some external walls can be rearranged – its flexibility mirrors the live excavation site, a shelter to accommodate the exploration within."

Image Credit to Foster + Partners

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