Clad in patinated brass, the building marries a simple form in plan with irregular rooflines. The roof folds along east-west axes, creating a game of slopes and fragmenting the volume, which establishes a dialogue with the neighbouring houses and agricultural warehouses while avoiding imitation. These folds, steps in the roof like steel blades, are gashed with glazed openings to capture the north light.
Seldom giving on to the neighbouring houses, the building looks towards the distant horizon of fields, the former battlefields.
The architectural language of the museum expresses various sentiments linked to war: tension (the lowering steel block), tearing apart (cut-outs of the entrance facade), fracture (the shape of the entrance hall), destruction (lacerations in the roof) – but also peace and hope (broad, calm views over the surrounding countryside).
The light coming through the irregular saw-tooth roof illuminates a central double-height entrance hall space, in such a way that it feels neither interior nor exterior.
Beyond the reception, the different areas of the museum are all accessed via the hall: exhibition galleries, conference hall, educational area …
This focal point of the building is a “lively” space, animated by the circulation of visitors at different levels, and giving glimpses of the exhibits.
It is also a dramatic space, whose dark, irregular walls and lacerated roof are an architectural interpretation of what is represented by war: fracture, destruction, and burnt-out buildings whose blackened timbers jut out against the sky.
The huge panels of patinated metal that form the hall’s walls are the same as those used on the facades. This provides the building with a powerful identity, coherence and sculptural character.
The choice of metal is not innocent, it is the material of weapons, shells, canons … And the patina, the oxidisation, evoke the passage of time since these events occurred.