Musée des Confluences, Lyon France

Coop Himmelblau designed the Museum of Confluences in Lyon, France in 2014. The museum is dedicated to natural science and anthropology, beginning with questions of man’s origins and purpose. The exhibits explain the big bang theory, the history of the universe, and delves into world cultures, with exhibitions from arts and crafts artists. Evolution is explained, and societal functions and how they lead to creation.

It is interesting that the Deconstructivist building slightly resembles Himmelb(l)au’s BMW Welt as that building was about “spiritualizing a commercial transaction.” Perhaps there is a connection between modern commercialization and this secular approach to fundamental questions of life.

The raised building allows for public exterior space and approach paths. The entrance is evident from crystal-like geometric glazing, as is common for modern museums such as the Louvre. Like the Louvre, this entrance includes a spiral ramp and escalator to the exhibition spaces. The main path ends at a view of where the Rhône and Saône rivers meet, which gives the museum its name “confluence.” It transitions from the urban city to the confluence of these powerful rivers.

While the walls take a dynamic form that suggests the ebbing and flow of the rivers, its raised singular form and ship-like shape suggests a kind of ark. Its location and positioning is also reminiscent of the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris or the Deutsches Eck in Koblenz, Germany.

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