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112 PERSPECTIVE

ARCHITECTURE Cit De lOcan et du Surf / Biarritz, France


113 PERSPECTIVE
Riding the wave
Upon hearing theres a new museum dedicated to surfing and the
ocean, the non-surfer doesnt immediately think of France, but
this is exactly where the new Cit de lOcan et du Surf is located
here i s a l oL ol surli nq al onq Lhe
souLheasL coasL ol Lhe Bay ol Biscay
BiarriLz, in lacL, is said Lo be Lhe cenLre
ol surlinq in France and one ol Lurope's
besL surlinq Lowns.
1he Lown has a lonq hisLory appreciaLion ol
iLs oceanic surroundinqs lrom iLs cenLuries ol
whalinq Lo 9Lh cenLury claims LhaL Lhe waLers
held medicinal values. For almosL 20 years, Lhe
ciLy has held a premier surl lesLival LhaL brinqs
worldrenown surlers, and surlers represenL a
siqnilicanL percenLaqe ol Lhe Lown's annual
LourisL numbers.
1he museum, a collaboraLion beLween US
based SLeven Holl ArchiLecLs and Lhe Brazilian
archiLecLural desiqner Solanqe Fabio, isn'L so
much abouL caLchinq Lhe perlecL Lube or ridinq
qooly looL. While iLs aLLenLion Lo Lhe surlinq
communiLy may indeed brinq surler LourisLs Lo
iLs doors, Lhe museum is an educaLional Lool
abouL Lhe ocean's healLh. lL's a place where
anyone can "learn abouL Lhe problems ol Lhe
healLh ol Lhe ocean," Holl says, "and Lheir role in
our l ei sure, sci ence, and ecol oqy. l n Lhi s
incredible cupped lorm, one side moves you
Loward Lhe ocean horizon, and Lhe oLher side
cups Lhe space up in Lhe disLance."
1he museum, known l ocal l y as Ci Le de
l'Ocean eL du Surl, opened Lhis summer, beqan
as an inLernaLional compeLiLion in 2005. lL has
an inLerior ol 3,800 sqm and exLerior sLudy and
inLeracLive spaces LhaL expand Lo more Lhan
5,500 sqm. Some LwoLhirds ol Lhe buildinq
resides below qround.
1he primary ouLdoor space is concave,
desiqned Lo represenL Lhe ocean as a whole,
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under Lhe sky. lL's llanked by Lwo massive
waves. LenqLhwise, iL Lapers Loward Lhe Bay ol
Biscay. lnside Lhe museum, Lhe ceilinq bears a
convex shape. 1he i nLeri ors are meanL Lo
symbolise an 'under Lhe sea' concepL. Walls are
shaped irreqularly, appearinq like lrozen waves.
1he composiLion ol curvilinear shapes and
smooLh, qenLle lines qranLs an orqanic ellecL. lL
yields a deliniLe crysLallised meLaphor lor Lhe
planeL's mosL abundanL elemenL.
Some spaces seem like Lhe very Lubes
surlers caLch and are brillianLly illuminaLed
wi Lh aquamari ne hues, oLhers resembl e
massive walls ol waves. Surlaces ol dynamic
curves are illuminaLed wiLh liqhLs in ocean
waLers hues, in conLrasL wiLh oLher liqhLinq
Lechniques LhaL mimic whaL we miqhL see
when, say, scuba di vi nq. 1he l i qhLi nq i s
desiqned Lo spill inLo oLher areas, Loo, creaLinq
a naLural llow |usL as Lhe liqhL below Lhe ocean
surlace miqhL. 1wo qlass boxes LhaL house
various componenLs ol Lhe museum resemble
Lhe Lwo larqe boulders in Lhe ocean, visible |usL
pasL Lhe beach in Lhe disLance.
1he buildinq appears LranslucenL lrom Lhe
ouLside, Lhanks due Lo iLs hiqh qlass conLenL. 1his
is no accidenL. Like Lhe inLerior archiLecLure
elemenLs LhaL echo Lhe museum's surroundinqs,
so does Lhe buildinq's maLerials. WhiLe Okalux
insulaLinq qlass con|ures imaqes ol sea loam on a
qood surl day. 1he LexLured whiLe concreLe ol Lhe
buildinq's exLerior seems like a solL shell, iL's an
aqqreqaLe made lrom locallysourced maLerials.
MaLerials ol Lhe plaza are a proqressive variaLion
ol PorLuquese cobblesLones pavinq wiLh qrass
and naLural, local veqeLaLion.
PERSPECTIVE
ARCHITECTURE Cit De lOcan et du Surf / Biarritz, France
114
Like Lhe ocean, Lhe museum allows lor
acLiviLies aL various levels. People can qaLher
ouLdoors, wiLhin Lhe museum, and upon Lhe
rool. 1he museum conLains a sLore, audiLorium,
resLauranL, ollices, exhibiLion spaces, and
several areas indoors and ouL lor planned or
sponLaneous evenLs and acLiviLies. For insLance,
Lhere's a skaLe park on Lhe plaza level. 1he
archiLecLs say Lhis symbolises Lhe link beLween
Lhe surlinq and skaLeboardinq communiLies.
1he LLAFawarded museum Lapers as Lhe
campus nears Lhe ocean. lLs narrow scope may
help iL blend inLo Lhe siLe, as Lhe archiLecLs poinL
ouL, buL Lhe overall locaLion does evoke lurLher
quesLions: how well can a museum liL in Lhe
middle ol a neiqhbourhood ol larqe residenLial
ploLs? How vasLly does Lhe museum diller lrom
Lhe Museum ol Lhe Sea, already a BiarriLz
insLiLuLion? As lor museums dedicaLed lully Lo
surlinq, look Lo SouLh Alrica, Calilornia, or
AusLralia... buL how much does LhaL really maLLer?
The interiors are
meant to symbolise
an under the sea
concept. Walls are
shaped irregularly,
appearing like
frozen waves. The
composition of
curvilinear shapes
and smooth, gentle
lines grants an
organic effect
PERSPECTIVE
ARCHITECTURE Cit De lOcan et du Surf / Biarritz, France
116

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