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Cité de l’Océan et du Surf
Steven Holl Architects

January 09, 2012 /

Biarritz, France

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Photo © Iwan Baan

The Cité de l'Océan et du Surf is a museum that explores both surf and sea and their role upon our leisure, science and ecology.

The building form derives from the spatial concept "under the sky/under the sea". A concave "under the sky" shape forms the character of the main exterior space, the "Place de l'Océan." The convex structural ceiling forms the "under the sea" exhibition spaces.

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

The building's spatial qualities are experienced already at the entrance where the lobby and ramps give a broad aerial view of the exhibition areas, as they pass along the dynamic curved surface that is animated by moving image and light. The precise integration of concept and topography gives the building a unique profile.

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

The exterior of the building is a textured white concrete made of aggregates from the south of France. Materials of the plaza are a progressive variation of Portuguese cobblestones paving with grass and natural vegetation.

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Photo © Iwan Baan

Towards the ocean, the concave form of the building plaza is extended through the landscape. With slightly cupped edges, the landscape, a mix of field and local vegetation, is a continuation of the building and will host festivals and daily events that are integrated with the museum facilities.

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

Two "glass boulders", which contain the restaurant and the surfer's kiosk, activate the central outdoor plaza and connect analogically to the two great boulders on the beach in the distance. The glass boulders can be reached through the main entry lobby, which connects the street level to the cafeteria and surfer's kiosk, and are also accessible independently through the plaza, which serves as a main gathering space open to the public. An elevated outdoor terrace at the top level of the museum, provides open ocean views.

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

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Photo © Iwan Baan

At the building's southwest corner there is a skate pool, dedicated to the surfers' hangout on the plaza level, and an open porch underneath which connects to the auditorium and exhibition spaces inside the museum. This covered area provides a sheltered space for outdoor interaction, meetings and events.

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Sketch courtesy Steven Holl Architects

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Sketch courtesy Steven Holl Architects
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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSite Plan

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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsRoof Plan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSections

Facts about Cité de l’Océan et du Surf

Site area:

22,600 m2
Building area: 3,800 m2

Design architects:

Solange Fabião, Steven Holl

Project architect:

Rodolfo Dias

Project advisor:

Chris McVoy

Assistant project architect:

Filipe Taboada

Project team:

Francesco Bartolozzi
Christopher Brokaw
Cosimo Caggiula,
Florence Guiraud
Richard Liu
Ernest Ng
Alessandro Orsini
Nelson Wilmotte
Ebbie Wisecarver
Lan Wu
Christina Yessios

Associate architects:

Agence d'Architecture X.Leibar

Structural consultant:

Betec & Vinci Construction Marseille

Acoustical consultant:

AVEL Acoustique

HVAC consultant:

Elithis

General contractor:

Faura Silva, GTM Sud-Ouest Batiment

Client:

SNC Biarritz Ocean

Photographed by Iwan Baan

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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