Architecture D'Aujord'Hui, June 2011
"From one West Coast to another, Steven Holl, who tells of having surfed on the Pacific beaches from Oregon to California, has taken on the Atlantic coast with his first building in France, more precisely in Biarritz. On June 25, the Cité de l’Océan et du Surf celebrates its inauguration. The New York-based architect designed the building with Solange Fabião and in cooperation with French architects Leibar & Seigneurin. Modest in size, the building boasts great spatial richness. With two thirds of it underground, it derives from the concept “under the sky/under the sea.” As such, it plays on the concave outside curve to make its rood a public plaza. The ceiling of the exhibition areas is convex, reminiscent of the nearby sea and its waves. The metaphor is drawn out in this complex volume of finished raw white concrete, from which two glass blocks emerge, calling to mind the two large rocks that stand at a short distance. Surrounded by transparent or opalescent glass, these protrusions give off the milky light of paper lanterns. The relationship between the building and the sea is further strengthened in its continuation with the large lawns creating a promenade taking visitors up to the edge of the waves, the real waves that is."