Museum | Saint-Ours-Les-Roches, Auvergne | France

Type: museums/cultural buildings
Client: Region d'Auvergne, President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Planning: 1994 - 1997 (with Atelier 4 - Clermont-Ferrand)      Completion: 2002

Situated within extinct volcanoes on an altitude of 1.000 m this complex serves to inform about, educate on and experience the primeval forces of nature and the creation of our planet. It is highly symbolically charged, with an aura of mystery, the descent into the earth—the sketches to forward the idea showed etchings by Gustave Doré of the descent to the center of the earth by Jules Verne and Dante’s “Inferno”. Mostly underground it is approached by a long ramp down towards a metaphorical Volcano—a cone cladded in dark volcanic stone lined inside with golden metal animated by light. Research and conference facilities, IMAX theaters, greenhouses showing the positive effects of volcanism—fertility—and a restaurant with a view complete the complex situated in a nature park. The site is also used for recreation and hiking in an almost uninhabitated landscape. This is a project without precedent addressing feelings and atavistic emotions as well as search for knowledge and answering this task with an architecture of reduction and absoluteness.