Musée de la Romanité

Nïmes, France - 2018
9. October 2017
Photo: Serge Urvoy
A few days ago, the building that will house the Musée de la Romanité was delivered to the city of Nîmes prior to the installation of its collections and its forthcoming 2018 opening. The building and its unique façade face the Roman Arena of Nîmes. In the midst of Nîmes’s exceptional vestiges of antiquity, Elizabeth de Portzamparc has set up a unique architectural dialog between this ancient heritage and contemporary architecture.
Project: Musée de la Romanité, 2018
Client: City of Nîmes
Architect: 2Portzamparc – Elizabeth and Christian de Portzamparc
Design Architect: Elizabeth de Portzamparc
Museography: EDP et Associés (Designer: Elizabeth de Portzamparc)
Project Managers: Alexandre Belle (Director of the museographic project), Aldo Ancieta (Director of the building project), Sarah Coriat (Building Project Manager)
Architect of the Historic Buildings: Alain-Charles Perrot
Associate Architects: A+ Architecture, Gilles Gal (Associated Architect), Julie Couderc (construction manager)
Landscape Architecture: Méristème - Régis Guignard
Economist: L’Echo
Clerk of Works: Arteba
HQE: Celsius Environnement
Structure: Sarl André Verdier
Façade: RFR
Fluids: Louis Choulet
Lighting: Lightec and Stéphanie Daniel
Acoustics: Gamba Acoustique
Multimedia: Mardi 8
Technical Overview: C&G
Security and Accessibility: CSD Faces
Signage: Locomotion and Je Formule
Surface Area: 10,500 m2 adjusted gross floor area / 9,200 m2 floor area 
Photo: Serge Urvoy
Facing the Arena, the museum’s design imbues this major site of classical antiquity with a new dynamism and a sense of complementarity, ensuring its rightful place in the city’s history. The soft and horizontal undulations, the predominance of glass, the transparence and the lightness of the Musée de la Romanité contrast with the verticality of the Arena’s stone arches and their imposing mass that has stood there for nearly two millennia. On one side, a large cylindrical volume surrounded by the stone verticals of the Roman arches, on the other a large square volume, which seems to be floating and entirely draped in a toga of pleated glass.
Photo: Serge Urvoy
The façade of the Musée de la Romanité is designed to highlight the building’s lightness, heighten the floating sensation and create visual tension with the Arena. It supports 6,708 glass strips covering a surface of 2,500 m². Each strip holds seven screen-printed square tiles. The museum’s collections directly inspired the design of the façade. The glass squares subtly evoke Roman mosaics, which are among the major pieces of the collections (e.g. mosaic of “Penthea”).

This work within a work and the kinetic effects of this unique façade accentuate the sensation of movement resulting in its constant metamorphosis as the day goes by and from one season to the next, creating a dialog with the city by reflecting its colors, the light and the surrounding city life.
Photo: Serge Urvoy
The Musée de la Romanité, the city’s future 21st century heritage, is designed to blend with the universal values of Nîmes and build around its Roman monuments, restoring their role as anchors and points of reference for the city. It is part of a wider program of preservation and enhancement of the material and immaterial heritage of the City of Nîmes. The future museum will be a key element of a coherent cultural and holistic policy at the service of a tourism which is open to the world.
Photo: Serge Urvoy
Photo: Serge Urvoy
Photo: Serge Urvoy
Facade during construction (Photo: Aldo Ancieta)
Location plan (Drawing: 2Portzamparc)

Related articles

Featured Project


Haus am See 2

Other articles in this category