Thursday, 18 December 2014
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Casson Mann works on World Heritage cave-painting site

Casson Mann is working on a project to replicate one of the world’s most important cave-painting sites.

Above ground approach

The above-ground approach

The consultancy was part of a successful consortium bid with Norwegian architect Snøhetta, which won a four way pitch to take on the £40 million visitor experience project at the Lascaux Caves in Southern France, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The project will see an interactive replica cave built in an 8000m2 site.  

Visitors use torches to explore and unlock extra content

Visitors can use torches to explore and unlock extra content

The caves, credited as one of the most significant sites of Paleolithic cave paintings in the world, have been closed to public access permanently, following increased fragility brought on by the threat of environmental and climate change.

Pools of light will enter the space from above ground

Pools of light will illuminate the space from above ground

Casson Mann will create a scenographic vision of the caves allowing visitors to explore and interact with the artworks by tracing the narrative of three boys who discovered the cave in 1940.

A cross section of the main area

A cross section of the main area

The project, Lascaux IV, follows a series of previous attempts to recreate the cave system, which were not deemed to have been successful.

The entire area covers 8000m2

The entire area covers 8000m2

Lascaux IV comprises a low-profile exterior, reflecting the profile of limestone topography, which gives way to a subterranean cave system consisting of tunnels, cavernous spaces, and chambers, lit from above by shafts of light.

The visitor journey follows that of three boys who discovered the cave in 1940

The visitor journey follows that of three boys who discovered the cave in 1940

Tasked with giving visitors a sense of  ‘something very special’ Roger Mann co-director of Casson Mann says, ‘To achieve this, the journey encourages the suspension of normal life and an opening up to heightened perception, quiet thought and a free imagination.’

The cave paintings reimagined.

The cave paintings reimagined.

Playing on the narrative of the caves’ discovery, visitors are encouraged to leave 21st-century belongings in lockers at the beginning of the trail and imagine ‘they are following the three boys who discovered the cave,’ says Mann.

Timed excursions take visitors into the replica cave equipped with an ‘explorers torch’ and ‘explorers cape’.

An overhead plan of part of Lascaux IV

An overhead plan of part of Lascaux IV

The torch is a multi-media guide with audio in different languages, which also gives augmented experiences and helps reveal added content, as well as a function to collect and share content across social media.

View from above ground

Source: Snøhetta

View from above ground

Visitors are led through thematic zones where mixed-media interactives, projections and theatre will look to explain the history, culture and influences of parietal art.

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