RENNES (FR) - Housed since 1987 in the shell of an old farm building, the Ecomusée du Pays de Rennes is dedicated to showcasing Breton traditions and popular arts. The acquisition of a private collection of local antique furniture in 2000 made it necessary to enlarge the building. The new 350 m2 extension, designed by Guinée*Potin, will house temporary exhibitions.
The project forms part of an environmental and sustainable strategy, which calls for perfect mastery of both traditional and innovative construction techniques, together with the use of local environmentally friendly materials.
The architects opted for certified and sound materials from renewable sources, and recyclable construction components. The choice of a wooden structure and locally sourced materials made it possible to draw upon the region's heritage and promote understanding of the local area. It also ensured that work at the construction site would be fast, clean and cause only minimal disruption.
On the outside, a long timber facade with chestnut wood cladding and a green roof confirm the museum's environmental role, while reconciling contemporary style and traditional construction materials. Wood is a metaphor for rural life; chestnut wood is also a local species and can be seen in a number of prestigious buildings, such as the roof of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. It is particularly flexible and durable and contains high levels of tannin, which makes it exceptionally resistant to mould and damp. It does not require any chemical treatment and has a usable lifespan of over 50 years. Combined with an insulation layer made from hemp wool, it provides an efficient and environmentally friendly insulation.
Finally, the massive tree trunks inside the building are not mere decorative columns, but form part of the building's supporting structure, while giving aesthetic coherence to the building as a whole. The extension opened in early 2010 with an exhibition devoted to finials and roof ornaments. (Xavier Gonzalez)