In the heart of the Landes region (along the French South-west coast), the listed bird sanctuary of Arjuzanx stretches on 2 000 hectares. It was born from the renovation by the French electricity supplier (EDF) of a former lignite mine, which is today filled up by a lake, birthplace of numerous migrating grey cranes.
Architects: ALEP Landscape, Inca Architectes
Location: 40110 Arjuzanx, France
Architect in Charge: Gilles Marty
Area: 780.0 m2
Project Year: 2015
A line in the landscape
At the scale of the site, the new building inserts logically in the landscape. The site house is situated along a major landscape axis that connects the two shores of the lake, and structures the entire development project. It draws a visual perspective, highlighted by the large dynamic awning of the building.
Invitation to travel
How to give meaning to the architecture according to the history of the place? Here, the idea of a journey through time is preponderant. This concept translates into space: the exhibition gallery is designed as a preparation for travel. The Water Pavilion is a small boat dock, almost in motion. And the boat carries us through the lake to discover the landscape of the site as it was several million years ago when lignite was formed.
A Discovery Center
We designed a very open architecture on the site. It is not a classical interpretation center, but a "discovery center". Unlike a museum, it doesn’t aim to capture the public within an exhibition, but, paradoxically, at inviting visitors to discover the whole site and surroundings.
Evocation of flight
In Arjuzanx, the landscape is very horizontal. It is characterized by changes in the atmosphere, variations in brightness, and the presence of cranes. It was not necessary to create visual barriers but rather to reinforce these aerial effects. Hence the idea of a building which is born "from above" and rests delicately on the ground, expressed by the roofs' lightness.
The spirit of a house
As in all our site projects, we want people to feel at home. All spaces are designed and arranged in this sense as if we were entering a house. Great attention is paid to the atmospheres: light, shadows, orientations, framing, protection to the prevailing winds. Materials are inspired or derived from nature. Everything is done to give the feeling of a place both welcoming and open to nature and landscape.
Reference: "Arjuzanx Natural Reserve / Inca Architectes + ALEP Landscape" 21 Mar 2017. ArchDaily.<https://www.archdaily.com/867368/arjuzanx-natural-reserve-inca-architects-plus-alep-landscape> ISSN 0719-8884