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Stanton Williams completes major transformation of Musée d'arts à Nantes

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The €49 million cultural project, opening to the public today, has added 4,000m² of extra space to one of the largest fine art museums in France outside Paris

In addition to a total renovation of the original structure of the Musée d’arts à Nantes’ 19th-century Palais with its attached 17th-century Oratory Chapel, the newly reopened museum now includes several extensions accommodating an auditorium, library, new educational facilities, archive and external sculpture court.  

The main new ‘Cube’ extension, connected to to the original Palais by a link gallery, provides four floors of galleries for contemporary work. A distinctive feature is the main stair on its south side, which is flooded by light from a suspended curtain wall made of marble and translucent laminated glass. 

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Source: Hufton+Crow

Throughout the renovated spaces, the consistent palette of materials used is designed to create a reading of the museum as a single monolithic volume – carved out of a block of stone. The introduction throughout of more natural light to the art spaces is integral to the redesign – with the glass roof of the original galleries replaced by complex, superimposed layers of glass and innovative stretched fabrics. This means the experience of the interiors draws on rather than seeks to hide Nantes’ changeable climate near the Atlantic coast, creating not a ’timeless’ museum environment but one more reflective of its specific site and local environment.

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Source: Hufton+Crow

Architect’s statement

We are grateful to the city of Nantes for entrusting us to transform and extend the city’s Museum of Art, as well as designing the exhibition spaces for their exceptional and valuable art collections, providing flexible galleries for temporary art installations. We have also had the unique opportunity to transform the main street leading to the museum and, alongside graphic designer Cartlidge Levene, create the graphic identity and signage for the museum. The new museum has been conceived around the existing collections, creating an intimate dialogue between art and architecture that firmly embeds the new museum within the distinctive historical setting of the city.

Patrick Richard, director, Stanton Williams

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416 level 00

Source: Stanton Williams

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Project data

Start on site 2014
Completion Spring 2017
Gross internal floor area New Building: 4,000m², Renovation (Palais): 13,000m²
Construction cost €48.8 million
Architect Stanton Williams
Client Ville de Nantes and Nantes Métropole
Structural and envelope engineer RFR & SEPIA
M&E consultant Max Fordham & GEFI
Cost consultant ARTELIA
CDM coordinator VERITAS
Main contractor Bouygues Bâtiment Grand Ouest
Approved building inspector VERITAS

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