Snøhetta has announced plans to restore and revitalize the Museum of Natural History in Lille, northern France. The new design pays homage to the architectural heritage of the historic city and further enhances the museum’s prominent position by adding a contemporary extension that improves accessibility, facilitates circulation, and optimizes the visitor experience.
 
Working with a transdisciplinary team that includes scenographer Adeline Rispal, Taktyk landscape architects, engineering firm Quadriplus, and construction economist VPEAS, the international architecture firm will modernize the museum for a planned reopening in 2025.
snøhetta unveils plans to restore and revitalize natural history museum in lille, france
the new extension improves accessibility, and optimizes the visitor experience | all images courtesy of Snøhetta
 
 
 
On the occasion of its 200th anniversary, the Natural History Museum will undergo a significant architectural renovation to reinforce its position and increase knowledge accessibility. By merging historic preservation and modern exhibition design, the project led by Snøhetta supports the city’s efforts to combine urban renewal with the protection of the city’s 19th-century architectural character.
 
‘In such a significant city with long-established traditions within culture and arts, we are excited to work on a project which is paying homage to and respecting the heritage as well as looking ahead. Through our design, we aim to revitalize the museum as a landmark and aspire to find the most sustainable solutions, contributing to the City of Lille’s sustainability goals,’ says Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, co-founder of Snøhetta (find more here). 
 
‘The Snøhetta team has thoroughly rethought the design of the museum to propose an ambitious scientific program for the Lille Natural History Museum. While the museum is a place where one dreams, grows and learns, it is also a tool that must enable the efficient management and upkeep of the thousands of pieces in its collections,’ shares Judith Pargamin, Director of the Natural History Museum of Lille (find more here).
snøhetta unveils plans to restore and revitalize natural history museum in lille, france
the project merges historic preservation and modern exhibition design
 
 
 
The goal of the project is to restore the overall coherence and identity of the building, so that the museum fits better into the urban context and offers more generosity in the public space. The original volume of the building, consisting of three parallel buildings separated by courtyards, will be more densely planted and opened to the city by removing the most recent and less functional extensions. The historic facades of the building will also be preserved through restoration. Visitors will be offered a more intense experience through new, open circulation areas and flexible spaces that will create the best conditions for a more holistic and constantly renewed understanding of the museum’s collections.
snøhetta unveils plans to restore and revitalize natural history museum in lille, france
the new extension will make room for new thematic gardens in the museum’s courtyards
 
 
 
Snøhetta will add a new contemporary extension that will run through the building, connecting the exhibition spaces, storage areas, and collections into a coherent whole. This extension, which functions like a spine in the human body, will provide better accessibility and experience for visitors and staff, as well as for the building’s technical services. The new structure will also make room for new thematic gardens in the museum’s courtyards, which will be more visible and accessible, complementing the exhibitions. This ‘backbone’ expansion is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional buildings of the old town of Lille, with a brick facade and a soft and cozy interior with wood paneling.
snøhetta unveils plans to restore and revitalize natural history museum in lille, france
the expansion is a reinterpretation of the traditional buildings in Lille, with a brick facade and a cozy interior with wood paneling
 
 
project info: 
 
name: Natural History Museum of Lille
architects: Snøhetta 
location: Lille, France
area: 7,500 sqm
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