Musée des Augustins à Toulouse
- by Aires Mateus
The Musée des Augustins overlaps the Convent des Augustins throughout history. The charm of the museum lies in this symbiosis where the value of the art works and the museographic itinerary are inseparable from the spatial context of the convent. The new entrance of the museum will also be the new door of the convent: it should clearly open to the city and at the same time turn to the cloister with serenity, respecting the spatial values of the convent.
The new composition occupies the old southern wing of the cloister, recovering the dimension of the disappeared Chapelle de l’Ecce homo. It aims to restore the ancient matter and distance, currently too fragile, between the convent and the city. This volume brings back thickness to the south wing of the convent and reopens its connections, according to the original composition of the cloister.
The entrance to the museum is very evident, marked by an opening to which the visitor inevitably turns. This opening reveals a deep and mineral void, which leads the visitor to the cloister. The orientation of the space established the longest possible trajectory between the city and the cloister, a path whose distance is capable of producing an effect of desire. The path is enhanced by an almost imperceptible slope that, flows subtly from the entrance towards the cloister, relating all the different altimetries in a subtle and natural way.
On the cloister side, two ancient passages are reopened and illuminate the gallery. The first one, a monumental ogival arch, is completely recovered, creating now a passage between the new building and the convent.
The second, an arch, becomes a window, bringing light into the building and creating a subtle visual discovery of the cloister from the entrance area. The big entrance, with a gabled roof, also communicates with a smaller space that monumentalizes the facade of the adjacent building, allowing the light reflected by the bricks to invade the space.
Above the cloister gallery, the sober presence of a wall dominates the cloister, protecting it from the sights and sounds of the city and reaffirming its monumental and timeless singularity. With a suttle separation from the existing buildings, the project occupies its place in history, respecting the conditional assets and standing out serenely from all historical references. In a contemporary city immersed in images, movements and noise, the new entrance is a void to which the visitor will naturally turn, attracted by the flow that voids – rarely so evident – are capable of arousing.
architect: Aires Mateus | team: Francisco Aires Mateus, Manuel Aires Mateus, Anna Bacchetta, Pedro Frade, Alexandre Branco, Pietro Tentori, Fulvio Capsoni, Diogo Castro Guimarães, Aurnaud Fromet, Lavinia De Benedetti | client: Ville de Toulouse | status: Competition (2017) | clasification: 1 rang | location: Toulouse, France (43.6008199,1.4442583) | climate: Oceanic / maritime, Temperate | material: stone | environment: Old town | consultant: BG Ingénieurs Conseils, R2M, Inacoustics, Bossoutrot & Rebière | visualizer: Studio | scale: 300 m2 small | types: cultural, museum | views: 6.248