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Renzo Piano’s exhibition pavilion at Château La Coste, southern France

Place: Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, Country: France
Client: SCEA Château La Coste
Architect: RPWB Renzo Piano Building Workshop

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Château La Coste Art Gallery designed by Renzo Piano, view from south-west; photo © Inexhibit, 2017

Renzo Piano’s art exhibition pavilion at Château La Coste, southern France

Designed by Renzo Piano, this art gallery is the latest addition to the architectural complex of Château La Coste, a wine-themed resort and wine production facility a few kilometers north of Aix-en-Provence, southern France.

Inaugurated in May 2017, the new pavilion is a small sunken building aimed to accommodate art exhibitions, especially of contemporary photography, surrounded by magnificent vineyards of Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino grapes.

A long, narrow corridor flanked by retaining walls in bare concrete, cut into the hillock in which the building is encased, leads to the pavilion entrance. The building is covered by a tensile fabric roof, made of a sequence of “sails” fastened to metal arches, which is also a sun-shading system apt to the sunny, sometimes torrid, climate of inland Provence.

On a floor area of about 3,000 square feet, the pavilion houses a main exhibition gallery, marked by large glazed facades on the east and west sides and flanked by two narrow spaces which can also accommodate small art exhibitions.
While the main hall is bright and warmed by daylight, the side galleries are dim-lighted and cold.
Such side spaces were actually designed as wine cellars, with the objective to emphasize that peculiar combination of art, architecture, and wine culture which is the distinctive feature of the Château La Coste site.

On the side opposite the main entrance, a small water mirror (unfortunately empty at the time of my visit) is aimed to reflect the rear facade of the pavilion and “extend” its visual presence. Between the water mirror and the back of the building, Piano added a small courtyard to be used as an open-air gallery for sculpture.

During my visit, the pavilion was housing an inaugural exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto, entitled The Sea and the Mirror, featuring ten large format photographs and an optical glass sculpture from the series Five Elements by the Japanese artist.

Overall, the architecture of the pavilion by Piano brought out mixed feelings in me; while the spatial relationship with the landscape is really excellent, I found the tensile roof a bit visually overimposing.

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The narrow corridor which leads to the main entrance of the pavilion; photo © Inexhibit

Art Gallery Chateau La Coste Renzo Piano aerial view

Aerial view of the pavilion; photo courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop

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Two views of the main entrance on the east facade of the building; photos © Inexhibit

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Views from west and north-west with the rear courtyard and the (empty) water mirror; photos © Inexhibit

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General view and detail of the tensile fabric roof covering the building; photos © Inexhibit

Art Gallery Chateau La Coste Renzo Piano sketch

Art Gallery Chateau La Coste Renzo Piano tensile roof drawing

Conceptual sketch and blueprint of the tensile fabric roof; images courtesy of RPBW

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The main gallery with an optic glass sculpture from the series “Five Elements” by Hiroshi Sugimoto;  photos © Inexhibit

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One of the side rooms with five large format photographs by Sugimoto; photo © Inexhibit

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Photo © Inexhibit, 2017


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