The 120-square-metre gallery projects off a tree-covered hillside in the 500-acre grounds of the Chàteau La Coste vineyard and art park. The rectilinear form, which extends 27 metres out over the slope, draws visitors through to a single window and terrace offering a privileged vantage point 18 metres above the landscape. The gallery is clad in panels of softly reflective satin steel and encased by an expressed orange steel structure characteristic of Rogers’ style.
Work on the Richard Rogers Drawing Gallery began before the architect’s retirement from practice in June 2020 and completed under the direction of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners associate partner and project lead Stephen Spence.
“The gallery is a beautifully handcrafted piece of architecture that soars out dramatically into the canopy of the trees to ‘capture the view’ of the mountains of the Luberon,” says Spence. “In contrast to the neutral gallery space, the legibility of the external structure is enhanced by its bold orange colour, specifically chosen both to compliment, but also contrast with the surrounding seasonal landscape”.
A lightweight bridge extends from the edge of a historic Roman track to the gallery entrance, where the whole structure appears to be tethered to the earth by four groups of nimble galvanised steel cables.
“Where the building touches the ground, it does so subtly, belying the robust engineering below ground that supports the structure from just one end. The physics of the building, cantilevering as it is in combination with the region’s seismic activity, requires bridge type engineering and construction techniques,” explains the practice, which last week announced the opening of it’s first Paris office in response to Brexit.
“The building and its materials needed to be flexible. The cables at the entrance that ground the structure contract and expand, sensitive even to the local climate’s fluctuating temperatures. The poured resin gallery floor flexes in harmony with the structure”.
The gallery is one of a number of pavilions by high-profile architects that make up the Château La Coste Architectural & Art Walk. Works by architects including Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano and Jean Nouvel are peppered through the site alongside pieces by acclaimed artists Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin and Richard Long.