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Musee Hergé
Atelier Christian de Portzamparc

July 29, 2009 /

Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

An elongated prism floats in the forest while a footbridge connects it to the city. Vast bay windows seem to suggest comic strips spaces, while the prism offers a colorful, fantasy like circulation space. This large reception area accommodates the four exhibition volumes, also linked via footbridges.

In addition to the permanent and temporary exhibition areas the museum contains a video projection room, a cafeteria, shops, studios, storehouses and administrative premises.

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

It was at the close of the exhibition, organized by the Pompidou Centre about me in 1996, that I met Fanny and Nick Rodwell. They had seen the exhibition, liked it, and wanted to talk to me about their project for the Hergé Museum.

It was wonderful as Hergé had not only cradled and enchanted my own childhood, but he was also cradling and enchanting the childhood of my children. My first ever drawings, when I was about four or five years old, were of Captain Haddock. When it comes to my primary architectural motifs, I realise now that they were inspired by the menof-war (the Unicorn), boats, yachts, junks, hows and cargo steamers that sail through the adventures of Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock. I remember them in the same way as I might remember old poems, far away in the recesses of my memory.

/Christian de Portzamparc

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

It would take another seven years before the first sketches and the first model of the museum appeared in 2003. Seven years during which there was time for relations between Fanny and Nick Rodwell and myself to grow, to become stronger and more refined with mutual confidence and complicity. Time for us to make sure that we were speaking the same language. This sense of collaboration was, throughout the project, shared by Joost Swarte, who was in charge of the scenography, and Walter de Toffol, our building contractor.

Louvain-la-Neuve is built on a straight-edged concrete slab with a car park underneath. It immediately seemed like a good idea to disengage the museum from the town, better to move it away a little towards the woods. In this way, bathed in the light streaming through the large bays, the visitor is confronted with "four landscape objects", which correspond to the general layout and Joost Swarte's scenography.

Each of these objects has its own personality; each is a kind of character. Each has a specific sculptural form, colour and unique design. Each displays an aspect, disproportionately enlarged, derived from Hergé's drawing style. One traces Tintin in America, another King Ottokar's Sceptre… To these four "objects", we can add a fifth: the lift shaft, vertical and coloured in white and blue, which I had first imagined as red and white, but which Fanny found too literal.

/Christian de Portzamparc

musee_herge_6.jpg
Photo: © Nicolas Borel

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

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Photo: © Nicolas Borel

What is clear to me, now that the museum exists, is that there were infinite sources of inspiration for the project. There was the program of exhibitions, of course, and the constant discussions with Fanny and Nick Rodwell, as well as the work of Hergé in all its dimensions of course: its identity, its individuality, its unique character.

I said to myself, from this point on, that the museum was obviously a tribute to Hergé, but also as much a game played with Hergé, or a letter to Hergé.

/Christian de Portzamparc

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Sketch courtesy Atelier Christian de PortzamparcSketchmusee_herge_11.jpgSketch courtesy Atelier Christian de Portzamparc
musee_herge_12.jpgGround Level PlanDrawing courtesy Atelier Christian de Portzamparc

musee_herge_13.jpgDrawing courtesy Atelier Christian de PortzamparcSecond Level Plan
musee_herge_14.jpgDrawing courtesy Atelier Christian de PortzamparcThird level Plan
musee_herge_15.jpgDrawing courtesy Atelier Christian de PortzamparcSection
musee_herge_16.jpgDrawing courtesy Atelier Christian de PortzamparcSection

Facts about Musee Hergé

Total area:

3,600 m2

Client representatives:

INCA

Project Team:

Céline Barda
Bruno Durbecq
Odile Pornin
Yannick Bouchet
Konrad Kuznicki

Landscape Design:
Jacques Wirtz

Scenography:

Joost Swarte

Client:

«La Croix de l’Aigle» S.A.
Fanny et Nick Rodwell
Studios Hergé
Musee Hergé 

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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