Interview with Manuelle Gautrand, architect of the Metropolitan Lille Museum of Modern Art


The Metropolitan Lille Museum of Modern Art in Villeneuve d'Ascq organized a design competition for the renovation and extension of the department housing its Outsider Art collections. The façade of the project presented by the winner, Manuelle Gautrand, was a Ductal® mesh, inspired by the arts of intarsia and mashrabiya. In an interview, she gave us some insight into her aesthetic and technical options.


Does this concrete mesh really serve a purpose or is it just for looks?

We had three objectives in mind. The entire Museum, which was designed by Roland Simounet, has a strong mineral feel that we wanted to recapture by choosing materials as carefully as he did back then. Second, since outside art is often fragile, we needed to shield it while relying on natural lighting wherever possible. Our third goal was to integrate the plant world into the project, mirroring the very beautiful grounds surrounding this section. The Ductal® lattice satisfied all three of our objectives.


Ductal® was perfect for sculpting on extremely thin concrete plates.

Manuelle Gautrand

How did you actually use the concrete mesh?

It will cover the main features of the project; all the picture windows overlooking the park. It is made of concrete-inlay panels through which light filters to create a mashrabiya effect. The design, though fairly abstract, shows stylized plants climbing on a random pattern. What we found most exciting was the possibility to create a lattice out of concrete and achieve a smooth, matte finish - light, very sober and refined.

Technically, Ductal® was perfect for sculpting on extremely thin concrete plates (7-9 cm thick), almost three times thinner than conventional concrete. Not only did this solve the weight problem, but it makes hanging works easy and they can be placed in front of picture windows.

Do you have other projects in which you've applied Ductal®?

Here we capitalized on the material's special properties to create a project in harmony with the architectural quality of the rest of the museum. Should the occasion arise, I'd also like to explore the range of colors and textures that Ductal® can offer.

More about Lille Museum of Modern Art

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