Right from the 2001 international competition for a natural history museum in Lyon, the museum was envisioned as a “medium for the transfer of knowledge” and not as a showroom for products. The building ground of the museum is located on a peninsula that was artificially extended 100 years ago and situated in the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers.
Even though it was apparent that this site would be a difficult one (536 piles had to be securely driven 30 meters into the ground), it was clear that this location would be very important for the urban design. The building should serve as a distinctive beacon and entrance for the visitors approaching from the South, as well as a starting point for urban development.
In order to build a museum of knowledge, a complex new form had to be developed as an iconic gateway. A building that truly stands out can only come into being through shapes resulting from new geometries. It was important to the concept that the flow of visitors arriving from the city to the Pointe du Confluent should not be impeded by a building.
The idea was therefore to develop an openly traversable building that would be floating in part only on supports, in order to create a public space underneath. Essentially, the building consists of three parts.
Situated on a slightly raised base (due to the high groundwater), two auditoriums (for 327 and 122 persons, respectively) and work spaces, which will also be used for training purposes for the surrounding schools, will be located next to storage and workshops for the production of exhibitions. The entrance building, the so-called Crystal, is openly traversable, and a vertical access to the exhibition spaces.
The so-called Espace liant, a connecting path, can be reached by an escalator, a staircase, and a spiral ramp. Left and right of this path are arranged the individual exhibition halls (one of them two-level), and at the end is a view of the confluence of two rivers, the Pointe du Confluent.
The steel structure, conceived as a bridge construction, made it possible to develop all of the exhibition halls without supports. The administration rooms are located above the exhibition spaces. In the Plaza below this highly raised, almost flying component – the showrooms are broadly cantilevered in parts – the lit wave pattern of the surface of a small lake is reflected on the underside of the building.
A brasserie emphasizes the public nature of this place. A freely accessible terrace café is located on the top floor. In the entrance building, a drop-shaped construction serves as supporting structure. Its form was developed out of the turbulent flow created by the confluence of the two streams. This gravity well reduces the weight of the entire steel structure of the entrance building by a third.
The foyer (Crystal) is a naturally ventilated space. The supply air enters via glazed ventilation flaps inside the east facade while the exhaust air exits via the roof area. It is therefore unnecessary to use a traditional air conditioning system. Only the main access areas and workspaces are microclimatic units whose comfort is ensured through local heating and cooling systems. The floors are cooled via ground water.
This will result in significant energy savings for the museum’s foyer in the long term. In terms of thermal insulation, the facades of the exhibition area (Cloud) are characterized by an extremely efficient building shell. All of the main access areas are illuminated naturally (not much artificial light); the water supply of the sanitation areas is provided through the ground water. A photovoltaic system is installed on the roof. Source by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU.
Location: Lyon, France
Architects: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU
Design Principal: Wolf D. Prix
Project Partner: Markus Prossnigg
Project Architects: Mona Bayr, Angus Schoenberger
Design Architect: Tom Wiscombe
Project Coordination: Thomas Margaretha, Peter Grell
Project Team Vienna: Christopher Beccone, Guy Bébié, Lorenz Bürgi, Wolfgang Fiel, Kai Hellat, Robert Haranza, Alex Jackson, Georg Kolmayr, Daniel Kerbler, Lucas Kulnig, Andreas Mieling, Marianna Milioni, Daniel Moral, Jutta Schädler, Andrea Schöning, Mario Schwary, Markus Schwarz, Oliver Tessmann, Dionicio Valdez, Philipp Vogt, Markus Wings, Christoph Ziegler
Project Team Lyon: Patrick Lhomme, Francois Texier, Philippe Folliasson, Etienne Champenois, Alexandru Gheorghe, Niels Hiller, Emanuele Iacono, Pierre-Yves Six
Planning: Patriarche & Co, Chambéry/Lyon, France
Execution: Tabula Rasa / Grégory Perrin, Lyon, France
Project Managerment: Chabanne & Partenaires, Lyon, France
Construction Survey Lyon: Debray Ingénierie, Caluire et Cuire, France
Costs: Mazet & Associés, Paris, France / CUBIC, Lyon, France
Structural Engineering: Design: B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger und Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany
Executive: Coyne et Bellier, Lyon, France / VS_A, Lille, France
HVAC: ITEE-Fluides, Arnas, France
Security Fire Consultation: Cabinet Casso & Cie, Paris, France
Acoustics: Cabinet Lamoureux, Paris, France
Media Consulation: Cabinet Labeyrie, Paris, France
Lighting Consultation: Har Hollands, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Landscape Design: EGIS aménagement, Lyon, France
Client: Département du Rhône, Lyon, France, represented by SERL, Lyon, France
Area: Gross Floor 46,476 m2
Volumes: 195,206 m2
Photographs: Sergio Pirrone, Courtesy of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU