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The Louvre Lens The architectural and cultural project
The choice of contemporary architecture
From the outset, the Louvre and the Nord-Pas de Calais region, contractor for the project, were set on a contemporary design. It was a real challenge to design a new building for the Louvre, which represented the Parisian museum without simply imitating it and which fitted the site - a former mine yard - without betraying its character.
In early 2005, the Nord-Pas de Calais region, contractor and chief financial backer for the project, launched an international competition which attracted more than 120 entries from both France and elsewhere.
The winners were the Japanese agency Sanaa (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa), in association with the American museum architects Imrey/Culbert (Celia Imrey and Tim Culbert) and the French landscape designer Catherine Mosbach, with a resolutely contemporary design. In March 2009 the Studio Adrien Gardère was commissioned by Sanaa to design the galleries and exhibition spaces.
An internationally renowned team working in France for the first time
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa founded Sanaa (Sejima And Nishizawa And Associates) in 1995.
In 2000, Sanaa won the competition to design the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa. In 2006, they completed the Glass Pavilion, an extension of the museum of the city of Toledo in the United States.
Alongside the Musée du Louvre-Lens project, they are currently working on numerous projects in Japan, Switzerland, Germany, France, and Spain.
In 2010 Sanaa was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (one of the world's most prestigious architecture prizes).
A sensitive, airy, and fluid design
The chosen design is a model of easily accessible architecture, close to the land, sensitive to its beauty and fragility, and open to nature.
The five main buildings are thus positioned on the site like boats on a river that have delicately floated into a huddle.
The grounds are planned as an integral part of the architectural project. They show the buildings to their best advantage, while the buildings in turn display the grounds through a play of reflections and mirrors on the outer walls. The grounds combine several areas for visitors to discover - a formal garden in front of the museum, clearings and walks through and round the edge of the grounds, natural forest groves in the western part and gardens forming a counterpoint to the woodlands.
The grounds provide access from the city to the museum and are open to the local population for walks and visits.
The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.