The Human Evolution Museum (MEH)

  • Burgos, Spain
Return to projects archives

  • Slide 0
  • Slide 1
  • Slide 2
  • Slide 3
  • Slide 4

The Mystery of Origin


This place will tell us about the immemorial time of an area when architecture was only the choice of grotesque landmarks and when territories would remain unsullied by any intervention. This architecture will  evoke Atapuerca, a land insignificant at first sight where some of the mysteries of our origins are buried, a site of scientific research where our most state of the art knowledge, our most specialized techniques are expressed with colored cords, with coded calibrations and complicated markings on ochre ground. How can we express the conjunction of these two aesthetic worlds born out of this unlikely collision of modernity and eternity?


The museum is like the reappearance, inner the city, of the geography and the landscape that surround Burgos. A relief, that finds its identity in-between something shaped and something shapeless, holed by a huge cavity. It is covered with the traditional vegetation of bushes of the surroundings. Thin metal structures that can be dismantled show a temporary research activity… a rocky ramp leads to the entrance from where one discovers below an open-roof urban square with on one side the façade of the museum, large wall of ochre stone squared with the researchers devices. Some shops, a hotel, a congress and exhibition center have views over the square and the terrace overlooking it. The sun gets in through an oculus larger than the one of the Pantheon; it is reflected in an ornamental lake that meets up, under the boulevard, with the river. An automatic device with a star-like geometry closes the oculus, reinterpreting if necessary the geometrical theme of the glass roofs of the vaults in cathedrals.


From the center of the square, on the west side, the Burgos cathedral is framed in the large entrance way. The vault with smooth uncertain shapes is an absolute modernity. Its sparkling finish on the curved contours can evoke, at another scale, certain effects of the lacquered work of arts of Anish Kapoor. Space of light, uncertainties, reflects and deepness; contrast between two aesthetics, one inherited for many thousand years, the other one invented by our brand-new millennium.



Jean Nouvel