In 2008, RCR arquitectes teamed up with the firm Passelac & roques architects to take part in the greater rodez authority’s design competition for the Soulages Museum. Chosen among 98 applicants, their project placed the museum on the north side of the entirely renovated Foirail garden. They grasped the significance of the site, considering it as a link between the historic centre and the new quarters.

Respectful of its surroundings, the building is organised in a succession of cubes. The intervals remind the passerby of the ”fenestras” in the Aveyron and gives way to contemplation. Orientated towards the garden, the southern wall does not exceed three meters whilst on the the northern side of the site, the ‘’boxes’’ overlook a pathway.

The steel reflects Pierre Soulages’ work
The cladding is made of Corten steel also known as weathering steel. When exposed to bad weather (i.e. to corrosion), this material creates a protective layer of rust. ”The Corten steel ages with time and perfectly suits the park’s natural surroundings. It is not a lifeless and sanitized material. Furthermore, its colour-range echoes Rodez’s pink -rey colours.” (RCR Arquitectes). The shades of this steel also reflect Pierre Soulages’ work.

A unique place

The Soulages Museum is located in the heart of Rodez town, in Foirail Garden, a stone’s thrown from the cathedral. Designed and conceived by Catalan RCR Arquitectes– Passelac & Roques Architects, the musem is spread on the north side of the entirely renovated Foirail garden. It fits its surroundings perfectly. Well-known for the attention they pay to the geographical location and surrounding scenery, Ramon Vilalta, Carme Pigem et Rafael Aranda immediately understood the value of that unique place.

The light

The museum will take the fragility of the collections into account. Arranged in practical volumes around a monitored light, it will provide obscured and protected areas for papers (Walnut Stains, printed works), whereas the five high ”boxes” will harbour the paintings and the cardboards of Conques’ stained-glass windows under a zenithal light.

4 levels

Four levels. From top to 1st floor:
-The storehouses (safety standard)
-The documentary centre and a workshop for children -The permanent exhibitions’ rooms with the works from
Soulages’ donations
-The temporary exhibition room dedicated to contemporary

The new Soulages Museum opened on 31th May 2014 in Rodez, the home town of the artist Pierre Soulages. The museum will house the extraordinary donations made by Pierre and Colette Soulages to the greater rodez Urban Community.​ ​This gift of more than 500 works and documents is the most significant collection ever donated by an artist during his lifetime.

From 2001, Pierre Soulages was certain that the core of the future museum would be all his works on the stained glass windows he created for the abbey of Conques, both in the concept of the museum and the choice of its architecture. The collection includes his preparatory works for the windows, figurative paintings and walnut-stain works from his youth, as well as his complete printed works.

The museum intends to become a reference point for international modern and contemporary art. To mark the opening, it will stage an exhibition, ‘Pierre Soulages: The Outrenoir(s) [Ultra-Blacks] in European collections’.

Beyond its monographic dimension, it intends to be- come a place where one will discover the techniques and mainsprings of artistic creation: the stained-glass windows he made for Conques Abbey will be the show- piece of th​​e museum.

The Soulages Museum is a museum ”in motion”; it has a vast temporary exhibition room and is designed to host events of both national and international scale. Text description by the architects .

Source: www.divisare.com + www.rcrarquitectes.es + www.passelac-roques-architectes.fr
Photography by: Kevin Dolmaire