March 21, 2014


This is the competition-winning proposals by Snøhetta, Duncan Lewis and Casson Mann for a visitor complex at the Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, France.
A subterranean complex of tunnels and chambers will surround the historic paintings, estimated to be 17,300 years old, creating a low-rise building that folds up from the landscape.
The Lascaux cave paintings were first discovered in 1940, but have been closed to the public since 1963 after the carbon dioxide produced by visitors caused the images to visibly deteriorate.
Architects Snøhetta and Duncan Lewis worked alongside exhibition designers Casson Mann to develop a protective environment for the paintings, which mostly depict historic animals.
Sliced openings in the roof will allow shafts of sunlight to filter gently into the cave interiors. Casson Mann designed these spaces first and the architects planned the rest of the building around them.
The Lascaux IV cave painting centre is set to open in 2015 and is expected to attract up to 400,000 visitors a year.
Description from Casson Mann:
A team comprising exhibition designers Casson Mann, Snøhetta and Duncan Lewis have won the prestigious Lascaux IV: International Cave Painting Center competition.
The team won against several of Europe's leading architects including Mateo Arquitectura, Auer+Weber and Jean Nouvel.
With a budget of €50million, Lascaux IV has been initiated to conserve the integrity of the original cave complex, permanently closed to the public since 1963, while ensuring that the public can still appreciate the remarkable Paleolithic paintings within. It is part of a strategy to establish this world heritage site and the Dordogne region of France as an internationally culturally and scientifically significant attraction in terms of access to, understanding and conservation of parietal art.
Speaking about Casson Mann's winning design, Jury member Bernard Cazeau, Président du Conseil Général de la Dordogne, said: "From the point of view of the scenography – which was, in our eyes an essential factor – it's the most successful project."
The winning concept expects to welcome 400,000 visitors per year and includes a low profile exterior that reflects the contours of the limestone topography and a dramatic interior designed to transport the visitor into a cave complex complete with tunnels, cavernous spaces and chambers lit by shafts of broken sunlight.


Casson Mann are a team of designers dedicated to the delivery of innovative projects for our clients.
We create teams to ensure that work of the highest calibre is delivered on time and on budget. Our considerable experience, spread over 27 years in different design sectors, has taught us how to prioritise, analyze, create and communicate. We work hard to ensure that our clients are able to see their aspirations take shape smoothly and efficiently, and that our visitors, unaware of the effort put in their behalf, enjoy themselves.
We offer creative responses to all types of projects and are sufficiently flexible to be able to design galleries, whole museums, temporary and travelling exhibitions, master planning and interpretative strategies. In addition to museums and exhibitions, we have designed offices, listed building refurbishments, cafes, restaurants and hotels. We frequently head up large teams, always mindful of our responsibility to maintain quality and adhesion to the vision.
We have worked with most of the major national museums in the UK and have created some benchmark galleries including the British Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wellcome Wing Galleries at the Science Museum and the Churchill Museum at the Imperial War Museum, all in London.
In addition, we have built projects in Moscow, Italy, New York and the UAE, with overseas work continuing in Philadelphia, Bologna, Bordeaux and Central Asia.
We have won many awards for our work – the Churchill Museum alone won 6 – and we are pleased that, in addition to those for design excellence, we have also won awards from the Museum industry and from consumer groups.
Founded in 1984, we currently employ 14 experienced designers and are supported by 2 administrative staff.
In 2006 Dinah Casson and Roger Mann were both elected as Royal Designers for Industry in recognition of 20 years ‘sustained excellence in aesthetic and efficient design for industry’.

Snøhetta arkitektur-landskap began as a collaborative architectural and landscape workshop, and has remained true to its trans-disciplinary way of thinking since it’s inception. Today, Snøhetta has grown to become an internationally renowned practice of architecture, landscape architecture, interior architecture and brand design. Comprised of two main studios, in Oslo, Norway and New York, USA, the practice currently has 130 employees from 20 different nations.
In 1989, Snøhetta received its first commission to re-invent the great Alexandria Library in Egypt, after winning an international design competition. This was followed a decade later by another competition- winning proposal for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. In 2004, Snøhetta was commissioned to build the only cultural building on the World Trade center memorial site, and a permanent office was then set up in New York. Snøhetta is currently involved with more than 50 projects in Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Working global gives each designer valuable cultural and economic insight and creates the foundation of Snøhetta’s continuously evolving professional knowledge base.

The inclusion of art into our projects from earliest conceptual phases of the design is of great importance to Snøhetta. The development of an artistic expression in conjunction with an artist or artists allows for contextual attitudes and ideas to become an integral aspect of the design concept. Consequently, many of Snøhetta’s built works include an artwork by local or internationally-renowned artists.
We are continuously inspired by the unique perspective artists bring to our work and find these cross-collaborations develop architecture as well as art towards new expressions and content. Just as the choice of building materials is affected by what is natural for the individual project and specific site, a contextual understanding assists in the choice of the artist and technique for the architectural project.

Snøhetta practices a self-defined trans-disciplinary process in which different professionals - from architects to visual artists, philosophers to sociologists - exchange roles in order to explore differing perspectives without the prejudice of convention. Within our office, Snøhetta emphasizes an open exchange between roles and disciplines – architects, landscape architects, interior architects, and graphic designers collaborate in an integrated process, ensuring multiple voices are represented from the onset of the project.
When working with Clients, this approach continues when we challenge clients to become architects and architects to become to clients. When interested parties come together as equals, we create a place to mutually understand each other’s objective and interests.
Transpositioning promotes the postitive benefits of moving out of one’s comfort zone. It defies narrow-minded thinking and encourages holistic approaches.

Snøhetta’s working method practices a simultaneous exploration of traditional handicraft and cutting edge digital technology – a serendipitous relationship that drives our creative process. At the core of the design studio is a state-of-the-art modeling workshop equipped with 3D rapid prototyping capabilities and a large, programmable manufacturing robot. Alongside traditional woodworking machines, these tools enable rapid prototyping to become an integral part of the design processes, and allow ideas to move seamlessly between analogue and digital worlds and back again.