Project of the Year

Musée du Louvre-Lens 

Lens, France

SANAA architects (Architecture), Japan,

STUDIO ADRIEN GARDÈRE (Museography), Paris, France,

mosbach paysagistes (Landscape Design), Paris, France,


Client: Région Nord-Pas de Calais, Lille, France



Photos: Hisao Suzuki, Philippe Chancel



Aerial view of the Louvre Lens


Photo: Ivan Baan



Jury verdict:
The new Louvre offshoot in Lens in France offers a new interpretation of the idea of the museum. The architects masterminding it have come up with a building that offers a spectacular spatial experience while likewise encouraging dialog between the visitors and the exhibits in a very special way. The Jury unanimously agreed to reward this outstanding design achievement by awarding it the special prize for Project of the Year.



Presentation of the project by SANAA architects
“In keeping with a desire to maintain the openness of the site and to reduce the ascendancy of this large project, the building was broken down into several spaces. Through their size and layout, which follow the gradual changes in terrain elevation, the buildings achieve balance with the scale of the site and the shape of the paths, landscape features evoking its mining history.
In order to visually and physically open up the site, the main glassed area features a hollow in the core of the building. This delicate glass box serves as an entry hall to the museum and is a genuine public space for the city of Lens. The project avoids the strict, rectilinear shapes that would have conflicted with the subtle character of the site, as well as free shapes that would have been overly restrictive from the perspective of the museum’s internal operations. The spaces are contained by a façade of anodized, polished aluminium that reverts to a blurred and fuzzy image of the site’s contours, reflections that change as one strolls by depending on the landscaping and available light. The main exhibition buildings flank the entry hall, the Grande Galerie on one side and the temporary exhibition hall on the other. The entrance hall leads to a lower level that contains storage space and artwork restoration areas. The museum thus opens its rear areas to the public.”
Kazuyo Sejima und Ryue Nishizawa


Adrien Gardère’s approach to museum exhibition design
“The interior layout of the Galerie du Temps, the backbone of the Musée du Louvre-Lens, designed by the STUDIO ADRIEN GARDÈRE, breaks with the canons of traditional museum exhibition design.
The STUDIO ADRIEN GARDÈRE chose to remove any partition and keep all internal walls free in order to heighten the perception of the building exceptional scale (125 m long and 25 m wide); place the artworks at the very heart of the architecture; and give shape to the scientific project which lays down a chronological route through 5,000 years of art history. A bold and innovative aim for a spectacular exhibition space (a 3,200 sqm single open space), born of the desire to provide visitors with a unique overview of Art history, and prolonged by the decision, made in conjunction with SANAA, to clad all internal walls with anodized aluminium in which museum furnishing, artifacts and visitors are slightly reflected creating an almost ethereal aesthetic.
The museum furnishings, consisting of a series of platforms, cases and plinths of radical geometry and design, are arranged and imbricated with such precision to create the various routes along which the visitors are invited to wander. Design, lighting, layout, circulation: everything has been designed to highlight the artworks and grant the visitor the freedom and pleasure of establishing a dialogue between them, an infinite conversation that is endlessly reinvented by his own movement.”
Adrien Gardère


Presentation of the project by Mosbach Paysagistes 

At four cardinal points the terrain is joined to the territories on several kilometers by what remains of the ‘cavaliers’ rider seams: network of raised roads/excavated earth for the transport of coals materials.

Mosbach restores the disturbed link between skin (recording surface) and depth (resource of yesterday and tomorrow). The park -link between the territory and museum- opens the door to future ages by introducing the arts as mediators of all the ages and as bridges to new mentalities.

She outline the challenges of a programmatic content (triggers of active memory), the space strategy of a cultural facility (park-museum) and potential landscape events (extended Louvre park).

The park energizes the suspension of air between shadow and light, between the curves of edges and the emptiness of clearings. It combines by subtraction, form and movement, matter and time, visitor and garden in accordance with a choreography on the scale of the intermittent or permanent migrations over the area. Visitors spread out over the short grass in the corners of the land folds. According to the situation and the viewing angle, each real body can be in turn artist, work of art, spectator and actor.

text by: Catherine Mosbach