Museum and Centre for Research into Biodiversity

The main idea of the Beautour centre is to glorify the historic mansion of Georges Durand, a Vendean naturalist (1886 - 1964) and his important collections. The aim of the project is to develop educational and scientific supports themed on biodiversity, as well as a management strategy and evolution prospectives for the whole area. Beyond the thematic gardens, composting, and using rainwater for watering, that are some obvious actions, the project aims to help new forms of biodiversity to develop in this area, deserted for 30 years. The Museum & Biodiversity research center tries to find a right balance between light actions, preserving the biodiversity already on site, and other stronger actions, creating a positive impact on the biological diversity.In a very present landscaped green setting, the project takes on a strong identity, reinterpreting in a contemporary and innovative way a traditional technique, by adopting a thatched skin, entirely covering both walls and roof of the building.

The competition images display the natural aging of the material, fading to grey tones and shades changing as the seasons pass by. As a compact shape would have vied with Mr Durand’s mansion, the building grows organic, embracing the mansion, surrounding it and spreading on the site without overthrowing the natural order. Solid raw chestnut stilts also confuse the overall image of the project, mimetic in this very context. The building, as a branch laying on the ground, is a ‘piece of built landscape’, a ‘new geography’ completing the natural scenography. Letting the building rise up the ground allows the biodiversity to stay in place and minimizes the impact of foundation works. The project slowly lifts up to unveil the pond hosting frogs and herons.