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Foster wins museum contest in Narbonne

Number one AJ100 practice Foster + Partners has won an international competition to design a new museum for Roman artefacts in Narbonne

Working with museum designer Adrien Gardère, the practice saw off a shortlist which included David Chipperfield Architects, Dutch outfit Neutelings Riedijk Architecten, Paris-based Jacques Ferrier Architectures and German firm Auer + Weber + Assoziierte.

The centrepiece of the museum, sited next to the Canal du Midi, is a collection of more than 1,000 ancient stone-relief funerary blocks excavated nearby. According to the practice, their display ‘forms a natural barrier at the heart of the simple, rectilinear building, separating the public galleries from the more private restoration spaces’.

The single-storey Musée de la Romanité features a ‘unifying’ concrete roof above a clerestory.

Spencer de Grey, senior partner and head of design at Foster + Partners, said: ‘We’ve been inspired by the setting, by the climate and by the fascinating collection of artefacts. Gardens strengthen the connection with the surroundings and at their heart will be a simple, energy-efficient building. Walls can be rearranged – its flexibility mirrors the live excavation site, a shelter to accommodate the exploration within.’

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