The Discovery of the Lascaux Cave

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    1940: discovery of Lascaux

    4 teenagers (Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal,

    Simon Coencas and Georges Agniel) set out on

    an adventure on September 12th 1940 on the hill

    overlooking the village of Montignac. It led them

    to make one of the greatest archaeological disco-

    veries of the 20th century.

    The cave was listed as an Historic Monument in

    December 1940.

    1963: closure of Lascaux

    The Minister for Cultural Affairs, Andr Malraux,

    announced the closure of the cave on March 20th


    1979: UNESCO listing

    Lascaux was listed as a World Heritage site and

    received the UNESCO award.

    1983: opening of Lascaux 2

    The first tourist entered Lascaux 2 on July 18th


    Lascaux 2 is buried into the same hill as the

    original cave. It houses a replica of the Hall of

    the Bulls and the Axial Recess which account for

    90% of the originals paintings.

    Two exhibition chambers tell the story of the

    cave and describe the artistic techniques.

    Almost 10 million people have visited Lascaux 2

    since it opened.

    Lascaux is the setting for a cave art masterpiece in the Dordogne,

    in the Montignac area in the heart of the Prigord Noir.

    This timeless and universal work is among the greatest creations in


    The cave complex covers approximately 200m and is made up of round

    rooms and galleries.

    Research carried out in recent decades has found that Lascaux iconogra-

    phy dates back to between the Solutrean and Magdalenian periods

    around 20,000 years ago.

    Frescoes represent many animals: horses, bulls, cows, a deer, feline

    animals, a bear and even a weird unicorn.

    These representations are accompanied by engravings and several

    mysterious symbols.


    Semitour Prigord


    Semitour Prigord

  • 2012: start of the Lascaux

    International Exhibition tour

    This huge exhibition uses new moulding and mi-

    neral wall recreation technology (patented veil

    of stone technology) to reconstruct parts of

    the original cave which were not reproduced in

    Lascaux 2: the Nave (the Great Black Cow, the

    Swimming Stags, the Panel of the Imprint and

    the Back-to-Back Bisons) and the Well.

    The grand tour of the exhibition aims at sharing

    the heritage of humanitys very first artists with

    the world.

    After Bordeaux (Cap-Sciences) in 2012, Chicago

    (Field Museum) in 2013, Houston (Houston Mu-

    seum of Natural Science) in 2013-2014 and

    Montreal (Centre des Sciences) in 2014, the exhi-

    bition returned to Europe in Brussels (Muse du

    Cinquantenaire) from November 2014 to April

    2015. After Belgium it will be Paris turn (Parc

    des Expositions Porte de Versailles) to host the

    exhibition from May to the end of August 2015

    before it heads to Switzerland (Geneva) from

    October 2015 to the end of January 2016;

    then Asia: South Korea in 2016 and Japan


    2016: The Centre International de

    lArt Parital Montignac-Lascaux

    The Lascaux cave in its entirety will be the

    beating heart of the Centre International de lArt

    Parital in Montignac. The future complex will

    focus on the entire reconstruction of the Lascaux

    cave and the use of new imaging and virtual

    technology for interpretation purposes.

    The Cent re In ternat ional de l 'Ar t Par i ta l

    Montignac-Lascaux will be a reference for tourist

    and cultural settings showcasing the popularisa-

    t ion of cave ar t thanks to pain t ings and

    engravings from the Lascaux cave.

    20,000 years ago

    Man printed i ts mark on LascauxTHE DAWN OF ART

    What does the Dordogne owe its status as the home of prehistory to?

    Not only to the fame of exceptional sites such as Lascaux and Les Eyzies, but also our land gathers

    testimonies of almost 450,000 years of human life which is the equivalent of the most recent quarter of


    Among the many sites, there are the deposits what focus is on the materials (tools, bones, burial places,

    ashes etc.) that were kept in them and the fascinating caves which our ancestors decorated with

    drawings, paintings and engravings.

    The sheer number of these sites in the Prigord made our region a hotspot at the turn of the 19th and

    20th century for the founders of prehistoric science led by Abb Henri Breuil.

    Certain periods, cultures and human types are even named after some of our sites. Aside from Lascaux,

    the Dordogne has a multitude of painted caves and shelters which embody our ancestors first artistic


    CG24 SNOHETTA - Duncan Lewis

  • Overview

    The plot for the Centre International de lArt Parital

    MontignacLascaux covers a 6.5 hectare area in

    total. The building unfolds at the foot of the hill

    on a 11,400m (1.14 hectare) area with a total

    floor area of 8635m.

    The land opposite the Centre (on the edge of the RD

    704 road) is to be used as a car park (168 spaces)

    and an additional ticket office for the busy summer


    The building is an average of 8m tall, approxima-

    tely 150m long at its longest point and up to 70m

    wide at its widest point.

    The roof is softly jagged to reflect the movement of

    the hill. The roof design is a key part of the project

    as it brings to life the sense of a rift or crack in the

    landscape which is also portrayed by the sites

    architectural style.

    The building plays on the sites layout and puts its

    roots down in the hill where it harvests a sort of

    organic continuity. The roof to the right of the back

    wall is actually level with the ground.

    The hal f -bur ied bui ld ing thus merges in to the

    landscape. The back disappears into the hill and the

    forest whilst the transparent front opens up wide to

    the valley.

    The choice of material is consistent with the notion

    of a landscape building which is part of the geogra-

    phy yet cuts through it. The flooring (indoor and out-

    door), walls, roof and faade strip are made of the

    same architectural concrete which makes the whole

    building look like solid rock. The raw material

    brings to mind the mineral world and the rocks in

    the hills and caves. Concrete itself is a blend of

    natural elements and human technique reminiscent

    In order to secure the caves preservation conditions and its long-term longevity,

    the Science Committee in charge of the site has recommended a complete

    sanctuarisation of the Lascaux hill. This recommendation dictated the guiding

    principle of the project which has just launched at the foot of the hill.

    The Centre International de lArt Parital Montignac-Lascaux site in Montignac-

    sur-Vzre is between the Vzre Valley and Lascaux hill. It therefore unfolds on

    the edge of farmland bearing the mark of human life and a dense forest whose

    thick and tall vegetation plunges the undergrowth into darkness. Nestled between

    these two contrasting landscapes, the project takes advantage of the geography

    and of the hilly area. It is a landscape building which gives a sense of an incision

    and underlines the border between the valley and hill. Based on contextual logic,

    the Centre International de lArt Parital Montignac-Lascaux is designed in keeping

    with existing forces, natural irregularities and the sites lumps and bumps.

    In a way, the spirit of Lascaux also guided the architectural vision for the project.

    It helped create an architectural project that is understated, that doesnt overdo it

    in terms of shape and material yet exudes real power namely in its relation with

    the elements: the relief, forest, rocks and light.



    SNOHETTA - Duncan Lewis

  • of Lascaux where cavities sculpted by nature were

    the canvas for mans thoughts and movements.

    The projects second material is glass which

    dominates the faade and the cover of the orienta-

    tion area. It produces a series of contrasting effects

    with the concrete: obscurity/transparency; dark-

    ness/light; raw/sophisticated; rough/smooth. Their

    balance helps characterise the features of a unique

    and modern setting.

    In terms of use and function, the Centre International

    de lArt Parital Montignac-Lascaux is a visitor in-

    terpretive centre. Unlike regular museums, a visitor

    interpretive centre doesnt exhibit collections of

    items but instead showcases and describes a site

    and its treasures. Thats why architecture, the site

    and its educational vocation are intrinsically

    connected here. The project has been designed

    using an approach whereby the landscape, archi-

    tecture and staging are considered one and the

    same with a direct connection to the visits narrative

    and scenario. Digital and interactive installations

    play a key role.

    A bespoke device using RFID technology and Wi-Fi

    acts as a true tour companion. Throughout the visit,

    everyone can collect content and information for

    their age and level of knowledge to suit themes that

    capture their attention.

    In terms of the project as a whole, visitors can easily

    distinguish between the areas due to the clear and

    simple pathway and the connection of certain set-

    tings to functions or services. Each setting has a

    meaning in line with the content provided to the vi-

    sitor. For example, the exhibition areas tend to be

    deep in the hill and in the dark whilst reception,

    transition and dining areas are bathed in natural

    light. These variations in setting and light along

    with the contrasts between ascent and descent,

    indoor and outdoor, land and sky, nature and

    culture are all reminiscent of the analogy with the

    cave experience in its broadest sense.

    The visitor journey

    Vis i tors are gree ted by the Mont ignac - fac ing

    faade of the Centre International de lArt Parital

    Mont ignac - Lascaux. I t s t ransparency creates a

    visual connection between the indoors and outdoors.

    It invites the general public to come in and provides

    glimpses of what sort of thing happens in the

    building. From the entrance, the notion of both phy-

    sical and material accessibility is at the heart of the

    project. The faade acts as a signal delivering a

    simple initial message to visitors. It lights up at night

    to embody the influence of the Centre International

    de lArt Parital Montignac-Lascaux. The reception

    is where the general public gets individual informa-

    tion equipment and begin their journey punctuated

    by different sequences (zones 1-7 and intermediary


    Visitors can take the lift platform up to the observa-

    tion deck on the buildings roof.

    Visitors can enjoy expansive views and soak up

    Lascauxs surroundings from the observation deck

    (zone 1). Visitors walk along a slightly sloped path

    on the roofs incline. Visitors walk outdoors on the

    edge of the forest until they reach the entrance to

    the Lascaux cave replica. Just like an open-air

    tunnel, this landscaped path is designed to put the

    general public in a setting similar to what caves

    discoverers experienced in 1940. The tunnel goes

    down and has retaining walls on either side against

    the varied sloping land. The scene is set in the

    space (atmosphere, narrative features etc.) to help

    visitors to explore the replica.

    Casson Mann

    Casson Mann

  • The replica entrance has a contemporary look:

    visitors know they are in the presence of a replica

    despite the entire project being carried out by a

    panel of prehistory experts to recreate a spatial

    experience as close as possible to the original.

    Inside the replica (zone 2), it is dark, damp and

    sound is muffled, like in a real cave. This sequence

    is above all dedicated to contemplation.

    Upon leaving the replica, visitors enter a transition

    space: a patio called the Cave Garden. The bond

    with the sky, the vegetation and the bubbling water

    characterise this setting which is meant to help visi-

    tors adapt to the outdoor area after the moving and

    emotional experience they had in the replica.

    The next sequence, Understand Lascaux (zone 3),

    is dedicated to deciphering the works in the cave

    to help visitors realize and grasp the historical,

    cultural and symbolic value. It is an informative and

    educational exhibition area where digital devices

    have a strong presence. Interactive tables provide

    an opportunity to delve deeper into Lascaux.

    The orientation area is an expansive central area.

    It is the meeting point for the exhibitions different

    zones and is thus essential to traffic flow.

    The Centre International de lArt Parital Montignac-

    Lascaux then offers visitors the chance to explore

    different areas of expertise. The Cave Art Theatre

    (zone 4) addresses historiography issues by looking

    at the work of pre-historians from the 19th century

    to the present day. The Cave Art World Tour gallery

    (zone 5) has interlocking domes which screen

    projections about painted caves all over the world.

    The Two Avant-Gardes Area (zone 6) explores

    the links between cave art and modern art in an

    interactive digital gallery.

    A seventh zone hosts temporary exhibitions.

    Project data

    Location :

    Avenue de Lascaux, La Grande Bchade,

    in Montignac (24290), France

    Surface area : 53,065m2

    Total floor area : 6307,70m2

    SNOHETTA - Duncan Lewis


    At the request of Dordogne Department, Europe, French State and Aquitaine Region joinedforces for the project.

    They are committed to several goals:- sanctuarize Lascaux hill to improve the caves preservation conditions to secure its long-term longevity

    - bring heritage to the masses as the general public no longer have access to this monument

    - promote technological innovation and expertise

    - draw on the most cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality technologies to understand Lascaux paintings

    - create an incredible facility with a unique expert technique to reconstruct painted rock

    - pursue the ambitious policy to showcase prehistoric heritage

    - bridge the gap between cave and modern art

    - boost the regions economic growth by focusing on high level cultural tourism in line with the natural and historical environment and contributing to the international reach of Lascaux and Vzre Valley.


    The Centre International de lArt Parital Montignac-Lascaux costs 50 M (exc. VAT) + 7 M(exc. VAT) for outdoor work

    Funding: Department (16.6 M), Region (16.6 M), Europe (12 M), State (4 M), Operator (2 M)

    Financial support from individuals and companies is required for the remaining 5.8 M.

    The Department has therefore joined forces with the Fondation du Patrimoine (non-profit organisation working

    to protect and promote heritage) which has launched a subscription for the public and companies through the

    Aquitaine Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

    The Department is also in contact with major national groups for patronage.

    Agreements have been signed with:

    - MASADOUR for a group contribution of up to 300,000 Euros

    - The Crdit Agricole corporate foundation for a contribution of 700,000 Euros

    - The EDF Foundation for 500 000 Euros (specifically for disabled facilities).

    Semitour Prigord


    - January 24th 2014: issue of the building and car park construction permits.

    - April 10th 2014: notice of award of contract

    - Late April 2014: work starts

    - April 24th 2014: launch ceremony attended by Mrs Aurlie Filippetti, Minister for Culture and Communication.

    - Autumn 2014: choice of public service delegate to operate the Centre International de lArt Parital Montignac-

    Lascaux: SEMITOUR Prigord won the tender

    - October 2014: Termination of scenography studies

    - Late 2014 - early 2015: attribution of scenography plots

    The project is on schedule.

  • Following PRO studies and before work started, members of

    the project team decided to reshuffle the groups organisation.

    The result was a new project team following the withdrawal

    of Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture that worked with

    Snhettas on the design work for the building, outdoor

    facilities and replica (in the sense of the structure designed to

    feature the veils of stone). Services were reallocated by the

    new team. For the work stage, SRA ARCHITECTES were

    tasked with coordinating project management and works

    management studies for the Architecture Outdoor and

    Replica Facilities sector.

    Presentation of Casson Mann,Scenography

    Founded in 1984, Casson Mann is a design agency

    that produces innovative projects for its clients.

    The agency has worked with most of the UKs top

    museums and has designed some of Londons

    benchmark galleries (Victoria and Albert Museum,

    Science Museum and the Churchill Museum at the

    Imperial War Museum).

    It has also designed projects in Moscow, Italy,

    New York and the United Arab Emirates and has

    worked on a regular basis in Philadelphia, Bologna,

    Bordeaux and Central Asia.

    It has won several awards (the Churchill Museum

    alone won 6) for the quality of its design work. It

    has also been recognised by prizes awarded by

    museum professionals and consumer groups.

    In 2006, Dinah Casson and Roger Mann were both

    named Royal Designer for Industry.


    Commissioned architect and Landscaper: Snhetta, Oslo, Norway.

    Associate architect at design stage: Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture,

    Bordeaux, France.

    Project architect: SRA Architectes, Chtillon, France.

    Scenography: Casson Mann, London, United Kingdom.

    Virtual Reality Specialist: Jangled Nerves, Stuttgart, Germany.

    Construction Economist: VPEAS, Bordeaux, France.

    Structure Engineering Firm: Khephren Ingnierie, Bordeaux, France.

    Utilities and External Works Engineering Firm: Alto Ingnierie,

    Bordeaux, France.

    Faades and Glasswork Engineering Firm: RFR, Paris France

    Lighting Designer: 818, Paris, France.

    Acoustics Engineering Firm: commins dBlab, Paris, France.

    Presentation of Snhetta,Commissioned architect and landscaper

    Snhetta is named after one of the tallest mountains

    in Norway. Founded in 1989, Snhetta is managed

    by Craig Dykers and Kjetil Trdal Thorsen and has

    offices in Oslo and New York.

    The agency brings together architects, landscapers,

    interior designers and graphic designers. The result

    is an all-encompassing architectural vision which

    stands out for its proven multi-subject approach.

    With 24 employees in Oslo and 40 in New York,

    Snhetta represents a total of 17 nationalities. Its

    cosmopolitan image is another key feature of the

    agencys identity. Snhetta has created an agency

    culture where diversity is key: diversity of both skills

    and cultures. In this sense, it is a structure with the

    ability to think, design and produce projects in

    touch with the world.

    Generally speaking, Snhetta adapts its architectural

    approach to each project as it creates an intrinsic

    bond to the site and context. A sites features should

    inspire specific and adapted solutions to enhance

    its qualities, free it from restrictions and create rich

    and diverse architectural experiences.

    In terms of professionalism and cultural understan-

    ding, Snhetta has a fantastic relationship with

    France as proven by a number of projects including

    the Centre dArt Parital Montignac-Lascaux in the

    Dordogne and the Annecy Convention Centre.

    The Socit du Grand Paris selected the agency in

    2013 to take part in the negotiated procedure for

    the Noisy-Champs train station and was recently

    involved in the competitive dialogue for the deve-

    lopment of the Grand Palais des Champs-lyses

    in Paris.

    Casson Mann

  • Further information about the projectand track progress on the