Arles Archaeological Museum, France, 1995
The triangular form creates a tension between the new building and the old Roman circus with respect to the peninsula: a complete spatial occupation.
The town of Arles has already in its historical heritage forms that derive from the square and the circle, the triangle will thus complete its formal repertoire.
The orientation conditions the degree of opacity of the three walls. The side facing the sun (towards the lock) has complete opacity; the one facing the Mistral wind towards the Rhone river is a screen that is smooth and glazed; the third one, facing the Roman circus and the old town, is animated by a play of projecting parts and transparencies.
The project assuming a triangular form, the exhibition spaces thus form a ring which reduces circulation and facilitates quick visits and permits future extension. Two wings are composed above the entrance hall that is directly related to the axis of the Roman circus. These wings form the exhibition spaces that unfold about a central patio and open out towards the river.
Due to the nature of the exhibits the exhibition places were placed at ground level. The provision of two different circuits permits one to understand the building as a whole. From there one discovers the two linear wings – the scientific wing and the cultural wing – which border the triangular court which is the museum proper.
The floor surfaces of the museum are of gray stone (pietra serena), the structure is a grid of concrete columns leaving the partition walls, exhibits and furniture to bring other colors materials and textures to the vast generous spaces which are already moving through the quality of light (the museum looks to the north). The natural light is modulated, controlled or screened by overhangs so that it gives the spaces their specific nature. Hence light shall be perceived as the most important element of the program. Night-time lighting, which is arranged to give a theatrical effect as opposed to the more neutral lighting of the day, brings into play the exhibits by means of the precise punctual sources. External horizontal surfaces are also in “pietra serena”, vertical surfaces in blue stained glass, the color of the Arlesian sky, a symbol of the permanence of ancient Arles in the spirit of the people of Arles of both today and tomorrow.