Carré d'Art - Musée d'Art Contemporain
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
This new museum building is sterile and aloof, and creates a dead zone around itself.
Nimes is a lovely city in southeastern France that some have called the "Rome of France." It has a wonderful network of public spaces, small squares and streets. But the attempt to mix historic and modern design in the Carré d'Art and the new museum that faces it, the Musée d'Art Contemporain, is startlingly out of context. The building, designed by Norman Foster, is sterile and aloof, creating a dead zone around the square. On the side of the plaza opposite the Museum sits an ancient Roman temple called the Maison Carrée. Any similar temple in Rome itself would be a great gathering place. But that is not the case in Nimes, since this small square lacks the qualities that most Roman squares have in abundance.
The unfortunate story here is that it wouldn't take much to make this a great series of public spaces: The tragedy is that the designer has stifled that possibility by creating a building to be looked at, but not used.