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