Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Culture, welcomes the choice of architect Kengo Kuma for the construction of a contemporary gallery protecting the western portal of the Angers Cathedral.
Saint-Maurice d'Angers Cathedral has a sculpted western portal dating from the 12th centurye century, which was protected by a gallery built in the first third of the XIIIe century, demolished in 1807. In 2009, work to clean the portal revealed remains of medieval and modern polychromies that were the subject of an ambitious study campaign and then an exemplary restoration conducted by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) of the Pays de la Loire. This portal now appears as one of the few testimonies of the polychrome cathedrals in the Middle Ages.
Only the construction of a new perennial protection would allow to preserve this exceptional ensemble. After several historical and archaeological studies, the data collected were not considered sufficient to envisage an identical reconstruction of the old gallery. This is why the National Commission of Heritage and Architecture of the Ministry of Culture approved, on July 4, 2019, an unprecedented project of creation of a contemporary gallery protecting the portal on the western façade of the medieval cathedral.
On October 13, 2020, the jury composed of the Prefect of Maine-et-Loire, the Mayor of Angers, the Bishop of Angers, the Regional Director of Cultural Affairs of the Pays de la Loire, the Director of the Operator of Heritage and Cultural Real Estate Projects (OPPIC), a representative of the Directorate-General for Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and qualified personalities, architects and historian of medieval art, analyzed the projects of the five teams of architects who had been selected.
The project presented by Kengo Kuma, an internationally renowned Japanese architect, was ranked first. The contemporary construction he designed perfectly meets the expectations of the competition: it fits harmoniously into a major heritage building and more broadly into its urban context, while ensuring the protection of the portal of the cathedral and its ancient polychromies.
Kengo Kuma, born in 1954, is a Japanese architect whose agency has two offices in Tokyo and Paris. He recently led the construction of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium (inaugurated in December 2019). Sensitive to the dialogue between architecture and historical or natural heritage, it is responsible, in France, for the extension of the Albert Kahn Museum (Boulogne-Billancourt) and the restoration of its gardens (under construction).
The teams of architects not selected at the end of this competition on sketch have each proposed projects of high quality, based on both the urban context and the major issues related to a heritage building such as a cathedral.
These are the projects of:
- Rudy Ricciotti, National Grand Prix of Architecture 2006 ;
- Philippe Prost, architect and urban planner;
- Pierre-Louis Faloci, Silver Equerre 1996, Grand prix national de l'architecture 2018;
- Bernard Desmoulin, Equerre d’argent 2009.
Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin congratulates Kengo Kuma and his team on the quality of their work and welcomes this unprecedented initiative, as a cathedral, which once again demonstrates the fruitfulness of the dialogue between contemporary creation and heritage.