INTERNATIONAL CAVE ART WITH 20,000 YEARS OLD PAINTING
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All images by Boegly + Grazia Photographers, Eric Solé & Snøhetta
The saying that the longer an artifact stays the more its values attracted us to this International Center for Cave Art in South Western France. Exclusively designed by the collaborative team of Snøhetta and Casson Mann Architects who completed the creative depicting center complex also known as ‘Lascaux IV,’ providing visitors with an immersive educational experience referred to as Sistine chapel of prehistory by archaeologists, a prehistoric 20,000-year-old paintings according to Designboom website as written by Philip Stevens.
Architects Snøhetta, SRA, and Scenographer Casson Mann, worked with a team of archaeologists to create a holistic museum and educational experience while developing the project. The monumental art center aimed to offer visitors a unique experience of caves as if they were explorers discovering the prehistoric cave paintings for the first time.
Located between a densely-forested hillside and the agricultural vézère valley, the museum was conceived as a fine cut in the landscape. According to the design team as quoted by Designboom website, ‘the form and materiality of the museum have a monolithic, sober expression, speaking to the surrounding nature and the massive rock formations embedded in the hill, with a new public, agricultural landscape unfolding around it.’
The inventive design allows guests to ascend to a roof terrace overlooking the picturesque landscape as the visitor experience begins in the lobby and then, descend a gentle slope towards the replica cave. The damp and dark atmosphere inside recreates the humidity of the caves. According to Architect Snøhetta, as quoted by Designboom website,‘this sequence is dedicated to contemplation, allowing people an experience of the sanctuary that once was.’ ‘Lights flicker just as the animal fat lamps of Paleolithic times did, revealing the layers of paintings and engravings on the surface of the walls.’
Replicating the original cave form to a 1 millimeter tolerance, the designers used advanced 3D laser scanning and casting technologies to develop the facsimile. Upon the construction of the exclusive project, 25 artists spent two years hand-painting 900 meters of resin rock reproductions, using the same pigments that the prehistoric painters used. Upon exiting, visitors arrive at a transitional contemplative space known as the cave garden.
The history of the Vézère Valley and its cave paintings was conveyed through the interpretive center for exhibitions, as installations by Casson Mann are enhanced by digital learning experiences, employing new technological devices and interactive screens. The first exhibition space contains eight hanging rock wall fragments and the area also provides information on the history of the caves, their discovery, why the real cave was closed, and how the artists of 20,000 years ago used to work.
The cave art theatre has a 3D film that takes visitors on a digital voyage, as the imagination gallery gives visitors access to explore the influence of prehistoric cave art in form of modern and contemporary artists. According to Designboom website, this content was curated by John Paul Jouary, a Professor, Philosopher and Author, whose work is devoted to the relationship between Paleolithic Art and the Art of our time. The Lascaux IV International Centre for Cave Art was opened in Montignac, France in the year 2016. Its in-deed a great art center with uncommon historic features.
Location: Montignac, France
Address: Avenue De Lascaux, 24290 Montignac, France
Client: Conseil Général De La Dordogne
Ground Surface: 11,400 sqm / 122,708 sqf
Total Floor Surface: 8,365 sqm / 90,040 sqf
Total Plot Size: 53,065 sqm / 571,187 sqf
Project Duration: 2012 – 2016
Opening Date: December 15, 2016
Landscape Architect: Snøhetta
Interior Architect: Snøhetta
Scenography: Casson Mann
Associate Architect: SRA Architectes
Associate Architect, Study Phase: Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture
Virtual Reality Specialist, Study Phase: Jangled Nerves
Construction Economist: VPEAS
Structural Design: Khephren Ingéniere
Fluids, Roads & Utilities Engineering: Alto Ingénierie
Façades & Glass Design: RFR
Lighting Designer: 8’18’’
Acoustical Engineering: Commins dBlab
Management & Operating Company: Semitour Périgord
Edited by M.J. for Buildace Magazine 2022