Lyon, France 2001



PROGRAM: museum, auditorium, educational facilities, workshop, café
STATUS: competition

The building form is a response to the unique aspects of the site. Its thinness and tapering off, the wide space of flow of the converging Rhone and Saone Rivers, the horizontality and organic turbulence are all aspects responded to in the building section of the new museum. The building’s geometry moves toward horizontal vectors like that of the rivers.

The concept aims for a convergence of four geophysical aspects:
1. Matter: the in and out of physical exhibition materials
2. Energy: the main entry hall of public flow
3. Configuration: the auditorium and main orientation
4. Correlation: the education tower-classrooms for study and deeper evaluation.

These four vectors join in a central horizontal turbulence from which a suspended taper emerges horizontally cantilevered above with the flowing rivers reflected on its underside. It is an open concept of flowing within the architecture with spaces in liquid discourse. Interior passages should intervene and cross-cut. Exhibitions are held within parentheses walls bounded by intersecting potential. The building sections aim at relationships working at the root level, where things and formulations merge.

The steel framed structure utilizes standard sections due to new computer programs producing each joint effortlessly in complex geometries. The building skin is a special golden patina copper alloy with a natural patina’s positive response to typical urban air pollution. Glass walls are double with an energy recycling of the inner air space.


  • architect
    • – Steven Holl Architects
    • Steven Holl ( design architect )
    • Tim Bade ( project architect )
    • Makram El-Kadi, Annette Goderbauer, Mohamad Ziad Jamaleddine, Matt Johnson, Christian Wassmann (project team)
  • associate architects
    • – Pierre Vurpas Associates
  • structural engineer
    • – Jacobs Serete
      – Guy Nordenson & Associates