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Prehistory welcome centre

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mission new construction – competition
client General Council of the Dordogne
project manager Jean de Giacinto architecte, CoCo architecture, Scape, OTCE, Nobatek, BASE, IDB
date 2007
footprint 1890 m²
prix 5,2M€ excl. tax
location les Eyzies de Tayac (24)

The department of Dordogne, and more particularly the Vezere valley, has a number of prehistoric sites, several of which are classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. In order to develop this resource and to inform the general public, the International Division of Prehistory (le Pôle International de la Préhistoire, PIP) has led an initiative for two new welcome centres, as an extension of the 2004 national prehistoric museum. They are scientific and technical educational hubs on prehistoric and archaeological science. Their placement, at either end of the Vezere valley, form the entries into the ‘Valley of Prehistory’.

A sensitive approach is taken in respect to the proposed transformation of the site. The qualities of the forest, the banks of the Beune River, the local agriculture and the limestone hillside act as inspiration and the material base of the project. This research has determined the aesthetic of the building, in order to recall the landscape and atmosphere of Perigord Nord and the Vezere valley.

The welcome centre is organised along one main internal passage, around which revolve the different spaces required for the facility. This path acts as a backbone on which the elements of the programme are grafted onto. It allows the integration of a certain amount of flexibility in the project: it curves slightly, following the irregularities of the road and stream which run alongside it. It links between the new parking spaces and the museum of prehistory. The rooms are likewise organised in sequences, separated by intervals open to the outside.