Soulages Museum by RCR Arquitectes with Passelac & Roques

Soulages Museum by RCR Arquitectes with Passelac & Roques located in Rodez, France | The Hardt


The Soulages Museum located in Rodez, France was completed in 2014 by RCR Arquitectes – the winner of the 2017 Pritzker Prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel – in collaboration with architect G Trégouët. In 2008, RCR Arquitectes teamed up with the firm Passelac & Roques architects to take part in the Greater Rodez Authority’s design competition for the Soulages Museum. Chosen among 98 applicants, their project placed the museum on the north side of the entirely renovated Foirail garden. They grasped the significance of the site, considering it as a link between the historic center and the new quarters.




Respectful of its surroundings, the building is organized in a succession of cubes. The intervals remind the passerby of the ”fenestras” in the Aveyron and give way to contemplation. Orientated towards the garden, the southern wall does not exceed three meters whilst on the northern side of the site, the ‘’boxes’’ overlook a pathway.



The cladding is made of Corten steel also known as weathering steel. When exposed to bad weather (i.e. to corrosion), this material creates a protective layer of rust. ”The Corten steel ages with time and perfectly suits the park’s natural surroundings. It is not a lifeless and sanitized material. Furthermore, its color-range echoes Rodez’s pink – grey colors.” (RCR Arquitectes). The shades of this steel also reflect Pierre Soulages’ work.





The Soulages Museum is located in the heart of Rodez town, in Foirail Garden, a stone’s thrown from the cathedral. Designed and conceived by Catalan RCR Arquitectes– Passelac & Roques Architects, the museum is spread on the north side of the entirely renovated Foirail garden. It fits its surroundings perfectly. Well-known for the attention they pay to the geographical location and surrounding scenery, Ramon Vilalta, Carme Pigem et Rafael Aranda immediately understood the value of that unique place.



The museum will take the fragility of the collections into account. Arranged in practical volumes around a monitored light, it will provide obscured and protected areas for papers (Walnut Stains, printed works), whereas the five high ”boxes”
will harbor the paintings and the cardboards of Conques’ stained-glass windows under a zenithal light.



Four levels. From top to 1st floor:

-The storehouses (safety standard)

-The documentary center and a workshop for children

– The permanent exhibitions’ rooms with the works from Soulages’ donations

– The temporary exhibition room dedicated to contemporary artists

–  ‘Musee Soulages’ – Chief Curator & Director of the Greater Rodez museums.  Photos by Musee Soulages and photographer Vincent Boutin.



Neither a mausoleum nor a monographic chore, the Soulages Museum will be a place for meetings and new experiences. While being a genuinely modern and contemporary art museum, it will favor exchanges with similar institutions or foundations, with great freedom in its choices from promising to seasoned artists, through different themes and links from one historical era to another (the Middle Ages, for instance, whom Soulages holds dear). The museum fits into the European gathering of museums. The Soulages Museum will be ‘’ unusual ‘ according to the painter’s words,: ” It will highlight the process of artistic creation, the role of the unexpected that lies in it, and without using banal teaching methods, I hope it will open the eyes of the public and awake their spirit to understand what art stands for. ”




Visitor services will particularly strive to explain the meaning of the artist’s know-how and gestures. The audience will explore Pierre Soulages’ works in the museum by following an itinerary that combines the painter’s history– his biography–with other expressions of his creativity, such as oil paintings, paintings on paper, printed works or stained-glass windows. The bright rooms with high ceilings will alternate with the darkened rooms with low ceilings to tackle specific topics, including the very first figurative works Soulages made in Rodez, the inspiration he found in the Aveyron, the hanging of artworks, the Walnut Stains, the different techniques of engraving, or the works he did at Conques. Each aspect of the donation will be associated with its constituent technique. That is why Conques stained-glass windows are a link between monumental medieval heritage and contemporary creation and act as a catharsis: they are the accurate portrait of the artist. In Conques Abbey, Soulages thought of a new light. In Rodez, we must show clearly how we can approach that form of light thanks to experimental witnesses. From matter to thought, with tools and hands.

– Benoît Decron, Chief Curator & Director of the Greater Rodez museums

RCR Arquitectes  Passelac & Roques Architectes  

Photos: © Kevin Dolmaire  © Patrice Thebault  © Studio Fegari  © Pep Sau  © Cedric Meravilles

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Soulages Museum by RCR Arquitectes with Passelac & Roques RCR Arquitectes Passelac & Roques france

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