Louvre Lens by SANAA
The looking glass at Lens; The Louvre opens its sights.
It’s being hailed as the most significant museum build of the millennia. The newly opened Louvre Lens, designed by Japanese firm SANAA, recently opened it’s slither like glass doors in the tiny town of Lens in northern France.
Harking back to days of the French Revolution when the royal art was passed over to the public, the Louvre Lens represents a recalling and extension of it’s raison d’être.
Conveniently located at the borders of Germany, Belgium and the UK, the world famous collection is now easily accessed by a new pool of visitors outside of the capital. After winning the competition in 2005, with a budget of €150M (£122), SANAA delivered an ethereal like low-slung 360m long glass structure that matched the “fragilty of the land”.
Sitting atop a former mine works shaft and built around a central pavilion, five ever-so-slightly, curved rectilinear boxes touch and rest upon each other. The sublime curve of glass and polished steel gently creates an extra dimension to the exterior reflections.
Breaking with the norm the The Gallerie du Temps displays over 200 works from two millennia freely displayed in an avant garde method of chronological order, and without a single wall hanging.
Collections from antiquity to 1840’s are laid out on just plinths and screens along the entire length of the 120m hall. Visitors can wander from era to era in a continuous meandering path.
The bare interior walls are then clad in the same aluminum as the exterior, softly reflecting visitors in amongst the art. Other activities include going behind the scenes of a museum and seeing at first hand restoration techniques.
Landscaping by Catherine Mosbach of sloping mounds and blackened soil pay tribute to the protected slag heaps (Europe’s largest) which dominate the landscape. Fragmented flat concrete masses congeal and conjoin nearer the entrance forming a terrain that slips and slides between a modest locality and a masterpiece.
Photo credits: Hisao Suzuki and Iwan Baan.