The main entrance to Lascaux IV is through the glass facade of the new visitors’ centre, into the hillside.

The main entrance to Lascaux IV is through the glass facade of the new visitors’ centre, into the hillside.

The main entrance to Lascaux IV is through the glass facade of the new visitors’ centre, into the hillside.

The main entrance.

Orientation space.

Aerial photo of the caves. Lascaux IV is the new visitors’ centre and cave replica, Lascaux I is the original cave, and Lascaux II the first replica from 1983. Lascaux III is a travelling exhibition.


The Cave Garden. A space for reflection after visiting the cave.

L’Atelier de Lascaux, an explanatory exhibition.

Gallery of Imagination, where you can curate your own collection of artistic interpretations of cave art and examples from all over the world.

The lobby, where visitors gather before a guided tour of the new cave.

Footpaths cross the meadows in front of the building. Photo: Ingerid Helsing Almaas.

The green roof is part of the landscape, and give a wide view of Montignac and the surrounding hills.

Lascaux IV seen from the other side of the valley.

Landscape plan. 1 Natural grasslands 2 Agricultural land 3 Flowery meadow 4 Lawn 5 Retention basin 6 Bus parking 7 Toilet pavilion 8 Existing trees 9 Mirror pond 10 Delivery zone 11 Panoramic terrace 12 Shrubs 13 Viewpoint 14 Car park 15 Perennials and ornamental grasses

Section A-A. 1. L’Atelier de Lascaux, 2. The cave garden, 3. Cave replica, 4. Technical space, 5. Path to cave replica.

Section B-B. 1. Administration, 2. Orientation space, 3. Temporary exhibition, 4. Staff toilets.

Ground floor plan. 1 The shelter 2 Path to the cave replica 3 Cave replica 4 The atelier of Lascaux 5 The theatre of parietal art 6 Film theatre 7 Gallery of imagination 8 Temporary exhibition 9 VR zone 10 Orientation space 11 The cave garden 12 Vertical zone 13 Lobby 14 Ticket counter 15 Shop 16 Brasserie 17 Delivery zone 18 Main entrance

The Lascaux caves with their unique Palaeolithic cave paintings were discovered in 1948. After a couple of decades of public access, the caves were closed in 1963. Today they are open for researchers, and only a few days a year.

The first replica of part of the caves, Lascaux II, opened in 1983, and an exhibition of replica fragments, Lascaux III, is still touring the world. Lascaux IV is the biggest replica so far, based on a precise 3D scan of the original cave. The replica is located in the same hillside as the original caves, and it is presented through a new visitors’ centre and exhibition, designed by Snøhetta and exhibition designers Casson Mann.

The concept for the building is a precise cut in the landscape, where the ground is lifted to allow visitors through the entrance facade into the hill. Another, parallel cut allows daylight in from the top to the long orientation zone, an open spine along the exhibition spaces. This is an architecture of movement, where the visitors gradually discover first the caves and then the explanatory exhibitions in a considered sequence of dark and light spaces.

The main structure is reinforced concrete, with a steel truss roof covered by concrete-filled corrugated steel sheet topped with soil and grass. The design team collaborated closely from the initial design competition through to completion. Local architects were SRA Architectes from Paris.

Exhibition designers: Casson Mann. Local architect: SRA Architects. Colaborating architect early fase: Duncan Lewis Scape Architecture