Museum in Sabres
Since 1970, the outdoor museum “Ecomusée de la Grande Lande”, located in the wooded stretch of back country near France’s Atlantic coast, has depicted life in the countryside during the nineteenth century. Visitors travel back in time in a vintage train to the museum village Marquèze. Adjacent to the train station is the new Pavillon des Landes de Gascogne. From a distance the elongated exhibition building is reminiscent of an over-sized shed. The sizable building massing – clad entirely in locally sourced pine – has been sensitively inserted in the rural setting. As one approaches the pavilion, the different parts of the building – corresponding to its different functions – can be discerned.
With its blend of a modern vocabulary and one inspired by local traditions, the new building points the way to the future without destroying the idyllic setting or contradicting the message on sustainable development. The capacious space for temporary exhibitions is situated behind the entrance. Exposed beams filter the light entering from the sheds above. When required, this area can be linked up with the auditorium. From here the visitors proceed to the gallery. Unusually large windows – an updated version of traditional casement windows – and a skylight illuminate the permanent exhibition found here. The building’s irregular shape does not necessitate complex construction techniques: the surfaces are sheathed in rectilinear materials. Most of the building components were prefabricated off site. By selecting glue-laminated timbers as structural members for the exhibition wing, the architects have made the structure adaptable: partition walls – in wood-stud construction – and the windows can be altered to meet changing needs. In order to withstand weathering, the entire volume is cloaked in heat-treated wooden louvers. In front of the work spaces and instruction rooms, they are consolidated as pivoting elements which admit sufficient light in winter and block the sun’s rays on hot summer days. The louvers also provide the roof with shade, helping to keep the museum cool in summer.