The MuséoParc Alésia illuminates the famous battle of Alésia between Julias Caesar and Vercingetorix, which took place almost 2,000 years ago. Bernard Tschumi’s gigantic cylindrical MuséoParc Alésia interpretation centre symbolises the encirclement of the Gauls by the Romans during that battle.
The interpretation centre is the first of two cylindrical buildings for the museum site at Alise-Sainte-Reine. The second building, an archaeological museum, will be located about two kilometres away when it’s completed in 2016.
The interpretation centre’s exterior is finished in wood, in reference to Roman fortifications, and the archaeological museum will be finished in stone, recalling Gallic rampart walls. Both fit comfortably in the landscape.
A huge network of Discovery Trails that will allow visitors to explore the 7,000 hectares on which the events of 52 B.C. took place will form part of the complex. The trails will also open in 2016.
Tschumi’s design reconciles the force of the event with the requirement for “modesty” imposed by the archaeologists, while at the same time ensuring the sensitive insertion of the facilities into a protected landscape.
On its four levels, the building houses the visitor reception areas (reception/ticket office, bookshop, toy library, restaurant), the permanent exhibition, an auditorium, and teaching spaces.
A gigantic rotunda is 15.50 metres high and 52 metres in diameter. It is entirely glazed and covers a total area of 6650m2. The building has a planted roof terrace that forms a viewpoint offering a 360 degree view of the siege site.
The wooden mesh facade surrounding the building acts as a thermal shield and limits energy consumption in order to respect the project’s HEQ (High Environmental Quality) approach.
In most of the spaces accessible to the public, the concrete of the walls, floor and ceiling are exposed, which requires an extremely high quality material.
To comply with this requirement, carefully finished concrete has been employed: the formwork has been planned, designed and positioned taking into account the central axis of the building.
The Interpretation Centre’s exhibition spaces offer a lively, interactive presentation of the siege of Alésia. Ancient objects and reproductions, dioramas, films, models, multimedia terminals and reconstructions of instruments of war present visitors with the keys to understanding the history of the site.
Location: Alise-Sainte-Reine, France
Architects: Bernard Tschumi Architects
Project Team: Bernard Tschumi, Véronique Descharrières, Kim Starr, Remy Cointet, Joel Rutten, Antoine Santiard, Jean-Jacques Hubert, Adam Dayem, Jane Kim
Area: 8,000 sqm