Musée Jean Cocteau
The Jean Cocteau Museum/Séverin Wunderman Collection is a museum in Menton, on the French Riviera, in the Alpes-Maritimes department. Dedicated to the French artist Jean Cocteau, it incorporates the collection of American businessman and Cocteau enthusiast Séverin Wunderman. Showcasing Menton’s turn-of-the-century seafront architecture, and holds true to its motto, “My Town is a Garden.”
Located opposite La Maison Trenca, a Menton landmark, the museum does not obstruct the seafront vista, but offers a unique reference point to the original and elegant architecture that made Menton’s reputation; a combination of stylistic features reminiscent of the golden age around 1900.
The building is in keeping with Menton’s urban fabric and character helping to return the Quai Monléon to pedestrian use. restoring the virtues of Menton as a seaside resort.
The area between the building and the covered market, a remarkable nineteenth-century edifice, is kept free of all construction from the vantage point of the pedestrian, by an archways and a garden. The roof ends in kind of deformed fingers waving, giving the building an ethereal feeling. The architect Rudy Riccotti talks about the design as a written text to the sea – facing the sea spray.
“The choice of architectural materials for this project, and especially its black-and‐white aesthetic, was unavoidable. The realm of dreams and mystery, the starkness of contrasts and the interweaving of shadows ultimately reflect the contradictions in Cocteau’s life and work. Black and white no longer serve as colors here. Rather, they create an interplay of structural forces calling to mind both the artist’s works on paper and the poet’s personality, his zones of light and darkness, his enigmatic self-mythology fueled by contrasts.” – Rudy Riccotti
The building houses the museum and its permanent collections, space for temporary exhibitions, an educational workshop for school, a library, a graphic design studio to see the drawings and unexposed prints, and a cafe where one can relax and discuss poetry and literature.
Rudy Ricciotti Architecte:
The architectural project of Rudy Ricciotti, the 2006 winner of France’s Gran Prix National d’Architecture, covers a total area of 2,700 sqm able to house all of the works donated by Severin Wunderman.
Although limited in some aspects, the site has great potential. Its features include a pre-existing parking garage on the first subterranean level and a purification plant on the second subterranean level with their access ramps bisecting the site, a sea-level aquifer, backfill soil, sea spray exposure, etc. Stresses in the immediate vicinity include a noisy coastal urban thorough fare.
The site is also not neutral in its impact. It will strengthen the relationship between the town’s centre and its seafront, as substructure ensuring the resilience of the existing urban landscape. The building must be in keeping with Menton’s urban fabric and character, helping to return the Quai Monléon to pedestrian use. Setting aside the disquieting vision of the archways, depicted in old picture postcards, the virtues of Menton as a seaside resort must be retained.
Project name: Musée Jean Cocteau
Location: 2 Quai de Monleon, 06500 Menton, France
Coordinates: 43.774701, 7.505767
Total Area: 2,700 sqm
Competition Year: 2011
Client / Owner / Developer: Cocteau Museum (Collection Severin Wunderman)
Architects: Rudy Ricciotti Architecte – 17 Boulevard Victor Hugo, 83150 Bandol, France
Project architect: Marco Arioldi
Museography: EDP et Associés – Belle Alexandre
Lighting: Lightec – Marcillox Franck
Gestione progetto: Sudeco – Dubief Thierry
Acoustics: Thermibel – Joëlle Latouche
Landscape design: APS Paysagistes Associés
Facade engineering: Van Santen & Associés – J. Bart
Text Description: © Courtesy of Rudy Ricciotti Architecte
Images: © olivier amsellem, eric duliere