BIG Wins Competition for Museum of the Human Body in Montpellier, France

International, Pictorial, Unveiled
Monday, December 2, 2013
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BIG's Museum of the Human Body in Montpellier, France (Courtesy BIG)

BIG’s Museum of the Human Body in Montpellier, France (Courtesy BIG)

A team led by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won an international design completion for the new Museum of the Human Body in Montpellier, France. Recalling the forms of some of BIG’s other recent projects, most notably Blaavard Bunker Museum in Varde, Denmark (which has just received funding to move forward) and the 200-acre EuropaCity mega-development outside Paris, the 84,000 square foot museum will rise from the surrounding landscape with grass-capped roofs, and a seemingly continuous, curving glass façade.

(Courtesy BIG)

(Courtesy BIG)

Set to open to the public in 2018, the museum will draw on Montpellier’s history of medicine and humanism as it explores the human body through artistic, scientific, and social perspectives with interactive exhibits, cultural programming, workshops, and performances.

Located along the edge of Parc Georges Charpak in the city’s newly developed Parc Marianne area, the museum stitches the landscapes of park and city through eight, rounded, interconnected pavilions that, in the words of the architect, “weave together to for a unified institution–like individual fingers united together in mutual grip”.

(Courtesy BIG)

(Courtesy BIG)

“Like the mixture of two incompatible substances–oil and vinegar–the urban pavement and the parks turf flow together in mutual embrace forming terraced pockets overlooking the park and elating islands above the city,” explained Ingels in a statement.

Above ground, alternating roof gardens of pavement and grass provide spaces for visitors to, in the increasingly strange words of the architect, “explore and express their bodies in various ways.” Meanwhile, a continuous, linear space below grade joins together the eight volumes, maximizing internal connections. To extend Ingels’ finger metaphor and provide appropriate day-lighting for the interior, the building’s glass facade is covered in GFRC-fabricated louvers of varying orientations that somewhat resemble the pattern of human fingerprints.

Construction is slated to begin in 2016.

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