The entrance to the cafe is located at the building’s higher end and opens out to a   terrace. It   incorporates a large window that   fills the cafe with daylight, and provides views towards the valley from a line of stools positioned along a raised sill inside. Information is printed directly onto plywood panels fixed to vertical birch battens. The village in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region in south-western France has a history of mining that V2S was asked to promote with   its design for a visitor centre on the route between Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry and the Spanish border. The lack of daylight and views in this space were considered particularly suitable to its use as a museum dedicated to the history of the local mining community. At night this window creates the desired “lighthouse effect” that enables the building to be seen from across the valley. Site plan – click for larger imageGround floor plan – click for larger imageFirst floor plan – click for larger image Permanent and temporary exhibition halls are located in the subterranean space behind the retaining wall. A simple palette of wood, concrete and metal used in their raw state gives the interior a straightforward and robust aesthetic. The centre’s roof is covered in a layer of local stone gravel with a reddish hue intended to match the roofs of the village’s other buildings. An   aluminium   and glass box sits over a long stone wall to form the facade of   this   mining heritage centre in the French village of Banca, by Toulouse studio   V2S (+ slideshow). Photography is by Julien Lanoo. Technical amenities including the kitchen, toilet and a lift are arranged along the embankment side of the upper level to free up the rest of the floor space. The materials used below ground are the same as in the cafe. An opening at the lower end of the retaining wall provides technical access to the museum.

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