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Kengo Kuma to design suspended museum on the Channel coast of France

France - May 31, 2018 - 08:15   5476 views

Kengo Kuma's firm Kengo Kuma & Associates has won the international competition to design the Maritime History Museum of Saint-Malo in France, the museum contains a trio of elongated units overlapping each other. 

Developed in collaboration with engineering firm Egis Grand Ouest, quantity surveyor Lucigny Talhouet & Associés, acoustic consultant Theatre projects and landscape architecture firm Volga Urbanisme & Paysage, the floating museum will be built in one of the most emblematic cities in France, located in the north-east of Brittany, on the Channel coast. 

Aiming to be the futuristic museum in the city, the Maritime History Museum will mark its maritime prestigious history through all the eras, combining past, present and future.

The goal of the project is to bring a dynamism to the city and create a deep impact with its emblematic and suspended form. The 6,000-square-metre building will contain permanent and temporary exhibitions, educational activities, events and restaurant.

"The project takes place in front of Duguay-Trouin dock and is a unique opportunity to balance with the “Intramuros” historial city fortifications. The new museum stands as a counterpoint, a new place of destination and attraction," said Kengo Kuma & Associates in its project description.

"It forms a key piece in terms of articulation between the historical city and the new districts. In opposition to the "Intramuros", anchored on its rocks and surrounded by its ramparts, the museum rises and opens onto its territory."

The building's architectural form responds to the harbor typologies and to both naval and industrial architecture facing it. The studio designed compact and vertical shape, echoing the existing silos. The museum is considered to be a new benchmark which allows to create large urban spaces necessary for the cultural program to breathe and offers a suspended unique museum experience. 

"From the initial request to create a belvedere above the museum, we chose to create a “belvedere museum” offering a panoramic view directly from the exhibition spaces," explained the studio. 

"Our design proposal strives to offer soft, efficient and evolutionary surfaces that can evolve over the time to absorb new collections as well as new museum practices. On the sea side, the wind sweeps and carves the volumes resulting in this volumetric singularity that characterizes the main entrance facade. This city-sea dichotomy, balance-imbalance, is highlighted and thus responds to the different contexts."

For the exterior skin, the studio chose an engraved zinc, rough with clear shades that captures the natural light and the special atmosphere of Saint-Malo. 

"Its use in vertical elements randomizes the building giving a visual vibration that changes according to the viewpoint of the observer and the orientation of the sun. Its texture, light gray and slightly shiny, reflects the water and the sky," added the architects. 

Site plan



The Maritime History Museum will be blended in the landscape and it will not appear as a massive volume but as a filtered facade. The new museum is expected to open in 2022. 

All images © Kengo Kuma & Associates + L'Autre Image

All drawings © Kengo Kuma & Associates

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