Steven Holl's Museum of Ocean and Surf

Steven Holl's Museum of Ocean and Surf opened last June in Biarritz, France, and has recently been named the Public Building of the year by the 2011 Emirates Glass LEAF Awards.  Designed in collaboration with Solange Fabiao, the museum was designed as a teaching tool to educate people about the health of the ocean maintaining a strong connection between the sea and the built environment both on the programmatic level and on a formal level as the massing was conceptually influenced by " under the sky and under the sea."

The museum's concave form creates a "cup-like" condition which serves as a public plaza, open to the sky and with great views of the sea.  Inside the museum, this inverse convex curve becomes the ceiling of the main exhibition space, evoking the sense of being "under the sea."

Upon entering the building, light runs along the curved surface and reflects into the galleries below.  The restaurant and the surfer's kiosk sit in two "glass rocks" which seek to activate the central outdoor plaza and connect analogically to the two great boulders on the beach in the distance.

The award committee stated, " It is designed as a set of simple, low, geometric enclosures, for a permanent collection and exhibition areas with a rolling plaza.  These evoke the mystery of the sea and by night glow like fragments.  The project achieves a good, seamless connection with its coastal landscape.  This is a poetic gestural design sitting between land and sea, and bringing together the best of both."