Gallery: Steven Holl’s Cité de l’Océan et du Surf Museum Opens in Biarr...

Image ©Steven Holl Architects
A concave "under the sky" shape creates a central gathering plaza, open to sky and sea, with the horizon in the distance. The convex structural ceiling forms the "under the sea" exhibition spaces.

Located on a pie-shaped site perpendicular to the beach, the museum is like an arrow pointing towards the ocean. The museum’s shape is concave and derived from the spatial concept “under the sky”/“under the sea”. Inside, the facility hosts an exhibition area, an auditorium, a restaurant, a cafeteria and offices, all of which aim to raise awareness of oceanic issues and explore educational and scientific aspects of the surf and sea. Dynamic curved surfaces in the plaza surge up like waves to create a peaceful space with views extended out over the landscape and towards the beach. These open areas are a mix of field and local vegetation and will host festivals and events in conjunction with the museum.

Two “glass boulders”, which contain the restaurant and the surfer’s kiosk, mirror two real boulders on the beach and activate the plaza space. These glass rooms connect with the rest of the museum, but provide ocean views in a protected space. A skate pool, dedicated to the surfers’ hangout, is located on the plaza level, while underneath is a covered patio for outdoor meetings. Cobblestones from Portugal and natural vegetation line the plaza, allowing rainwater to infiltrate into the ground, and the textured white concrete is made of aggregates from the south of France. Insulated glass units provide daylighting and interior comfort to the indoor spaces.

The museum’s design was first awarded to Holl and Solange Fabião in an international competition back in 2005 and was completed in the spring of 2011. As of June 26th the museum is now open to the public and all who want to enjoy the ocean.

+ Steven Holl

Images ©Iwan Baan and Steven Holl Architects



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  1. nyccollector July 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Steven Holl is truly a poetic architect who almost always seems to find a deeper level of meaning and purpose for most of his more recent projects. This new museum is to my way of thinking no exception. Hopfully the museum will become a valuable learning and teaching center for future generations to come.

  2. neves June 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Another non example of sustainable, incredible waste of concrete and whar for? Another useless museum.

  3. chris georgesco May 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I am hoping you remember The “Late Great Mickey Dora” my friend, neighbor and confidant from 1967 till left America. He literally owned the waves in Malibu and spent his last years Surfing The South of France. They did a PBS Special in America, “In Search of Mickey Dora”. They found him in the South of France but he refused photography and the only shot they got was of him behind his Long Board Flipping the Camera off. He was disgusted the commercialization of the Sport and traveled the world in search of untapped spots to surf as far as South Africa. Ironic as he Stared in so many Beach Party Movies among others. Again he did it for Survival.

    He was one of the first to surf North Shore Hawaii for the movie “Ride the Wild Surf”. He told me he did it for the money, “Survival”. He also said he was terrified and rode those Big Waves up high like Malibu so he could kick out before they Closed Out. He was a Ballet Dancer on a Board. Old School, he Flowed with The Nature of the Break, not this choppy short board stuff. To this day “Dora Lives” is still painted on the Wall in Malibu.

    My Father is a Internationally Recognized Architect and I am Floored by the Architecture, In and Out. Hope to see it when in Europe. My Wife is Dutch. I am waiting to see who you Honor. Congratulations on a Great Forum for a Iconoclastic Sport. Well Needed. Glad Somebody got it Right.

    Mickey died awhile ago in his mid 60’s from pancreatic cancer. He died at his fathers home in Montecito, California. One of his last interviews he was to sick to get out of bed and talk. However later the writer saw him outside in the Sun. He asked Mickey if he spent much time there. In Classic Dora Form he replied Ahhhh, You Know, Cant Die without a Tan. I miss him alot.
    A Rebel and Innovator on a Board. R.I.P. to Mickey, “Da Cat”.

  4. Ged May 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    With transitions like that, what about a sous le skateboard!

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