The new facility in northern France creates a centre for art conservation and research, revitalising a former mining basin
The facility is in the commune of Liévin, Pas-de-Calais, 120 miles from Paris. It is a new phase for both the Louvre and for the local area, being previously an industrial town.
Established in response to the flooding risk at the Louvre Palace in Paris and a desire to gather works scattered over 68 sites into one building, the facility will become one of Europe’s largest study and research centres, bringing together nearly 250,000 items.
The private facility connects to the public Louvre Lens museum, a translucent pavilion designed by SANAA. A single-storey structure with a green roof which tapers and slopes into the landscape, the RSHP building is designed to appear as a solid counterpoint to Louvre Lens, its form reminiscent of military architecture by the French engineer, Vauban.
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The west-facing elevation is tall enough to accommodate a mezzanine floor of administrative offices and the most colossal items of the Louvre’s collection. From this end, the building slopes eastwards into the landscape, from 6m to 3m. Grass-covered, it appears as a natural slope. Embedded into the earth, it helps to sustainably control the climatic conditions necessary for the preservation of the collection.
Inside the layout backbone is the ‘boulevard of artworks’ measuring 11m tall, where all transported pieces arrive and pass each other into the storage rooms, with a combined length of bespoke shelving at approximately 16 miles. The building consists of 18,500m² of floor space, of which 9,600m² will be reserved for storing works, and 1,700m² for study and conservation treatment.
Along the full-height glazed west façade, 1,300m² of space is dedicated to conservation treatment, study and consulting the collection. The windows bring in natural light for this purpose, with a generous external aluminium grid overhang to deflect sun rays. Rooms may be repurposed and rearranged with sliding screens.
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It has been a great honour to be part of this incredible endeavour. Very few clients are as prestigious as the Louvre and even fewer briefs carry more weight than the relocation of one of humanity’s great treasures.
Graham Stirk, senior design partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
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It’s going to be a hive of activity! Imagine, in the space of five years, nearly 250,000 works will be transferred there. It’s the biggest move in the entire history of the Louvre, and perhaps that of museums everywhere. I am proud of the Louvre and its staff for having the audacity to take on such a big adventure. I have also noticed that the world’s biggest museums are paying attention to what we are doing here.
Jean-Luc Martinez, president-director, Musée du Louvre
Completion date October 2019
Gross internal floor area 18,500m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 40,000m²
Construction cost £36 million
Architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Client Musée du Louvre
Technical consultant Egis Bâtiment Nord
Environmental consultant Inddigo SAS
Landscape architect Mutabilis Paysage & Urbanisme
Project manager VPEAS SAS
Main contractor Demathieu Bard Construction Nord