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Author(s): Pascale de Redon

Ornithology museum of Bonaguil

The ornithology museum of Les Hauts de Bonaguil was created in 1995 at the initiative of Michel Coste, then owner of the vineyard and winery of Les Ardailloux in Soturac in the Lot, as part of the renovation of this preserved site into a place for discovering the rural world and nature: with introductions to viticulture, walking and forest observation trails, and tours of the winery.
The client’s objective was to present the public with a collection of birds that were naturalised a century ago, in a simple building that is perfectly integrated into the landscape, and built with local materials.
The idea shared by the architect and client was to create a small museum that expresses the poetry of the forest and birds.
The building’s volumes, materials, and sections were inspired by the architecture of tobacco drying houses, which are part of the rural landscape of south-western France. Built of chestnut wood from the surrounding forest, it uses quite a bit of glass on the facades and roof, to represent the shade and light of the wooded surroundings.

The staging calls upon the symbolism of the bird, a symbol of the soul, that binds earth and heaven; hence their vertical presentation, on masts and perforated sheet metal plates, as if they were resting on tree branches.

A chestnut walkway midway up the masts allows walk to go around the birds, watch them from various angles, and gives a desired feeling of life and lightness.
The plan was also to construct this building with the smallest number of different materials, with the goal of saving resources, as well as with the desire to create clean lines: wood, glass, metal, and raw concrete.

The museum was built by three local companies: a mason, carpenter, and joiner; and the client carried out the interior design, all under the architect’s direction.
The building received the 2001 Midi-Pyrenees top prize for cultural site architecture. In 2012, the property was sold again, and the museum was transformed into an artist’s studio.

Programme : Ornithology Museum