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13 Sep 2017
France and Britain's past and future relationship to be explored in new museum by Casson Mann
By Kim Megson
France and Britain's past and future relationship to be explored in new museum by Casson Mann
Located on Sword Beach, facing the English channel, the attraction will explore and celebrate the shared social history and culture of the two countries
Photo: Phileas
British exhibition designers Casson Mann will team up with Parisian architects Atelier Philéas to create a new Centre of Franco British Relations in Ouistreham, France.

Located on Sword Beach, facing the English channel, the attraction will explore and celebrate the shared social history and culture of the two countries, and the influence each has had and continues to have on the other.

The design team were chosen ahead of 132 other submissions, with a proposal that the architecture competition judges praised as “a cohesive concept that bridges scenography, architecture and landscape.”

The contemporary building is conceived as an ‘architectural periscope’, forming a physical and narrative lens through which visitors “can navigate, explore and delve into the themes, events, characters and ideas that have shaped relations between the two countries and cultures throughout history.”

The roof is punctuated by what the architects call "periscope-like volumes", which will integrate with the beach’s dune landscape. A terrace and a belvedere that creates a promenade and connects with the site of the bunker, leaving open an extension of the interior exhibition design. A vast public square will feature to the side of the museum facing the town, inviting people in.

“We’re so proud and enthusiastic to lead this project,” said Anne-Charlotte Zanassi, Phileas founding partner. “We’ve designed a non-standard, landscaped building, which participates in the enhancement of the natural character of the site.”

The sea battles of the Hundred Years’ War and the D-Day landings both took place on Sword Beach, and one million holidaymakers who pass through the nearby port today. This unique maritime setting and history has inspired Casson Mann’s permanent exhibition and visitor journey.

“As a new bridge between France and the UK, we hope the exhibition will encourage exploration and discovery of how history, culture and trade are all interlinked, leading to deeper understanding of how the crossover between important figures, events, locations and ideas have and continue to shape our relationship,” said the studio’s creative director Roger Mann.

‘As individuals and a studio, Europe, and France in particular, is part of our heritage and success and we celebrate the symbolic and practical importance of this new centre.”

The building will open in November 2019, a few months after the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.

The project is the third cultural centre Casson Mann have recently worked on in France, following on from the Lascaux IV cave painting museum in the Dordogne and the Le Cite du Vin wine experience centre in Bordeaux.

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