BIG To Build A Monument To The Human Body

After an international design competition, BIG will design the Museum of the Human Body in France. Here’s what it will look like.

The human body is a temple, as the saying goes, and today it was announced that the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will design a proper memorial to our human corpus. BIG has won an international design competition for the Museum of the Human Body in Montpellier, France (along with a team that included A+Architecture, Egis, Base, L’Echo, Celsius Environnement, and CCVH) beating out five other shortlisted international teams.


BIG’s plan for the 84,000-square-foot museum consists of eight blob-shaped major spaces staggered around a main axis, with a reception hall in the center. From above, the structure resembles undulating strings of DNA. The building will be interwoven into a park and the urban surroundings, “in a mutual embrace, forming terraced pockets overlooking the park and elevating islands of nature above the city,” according to BIG’s Bjarke Ingels. It will create “a series of seemingly singular pavilions that weave together to form a unified institution–like individual fingers united in a mutual grip,” he adds.

The museum plans to explore the human body through an artistic, scientific, and societal approach using cultural activities, interactive exhibitions, performances, and workshops. Whereas Philadelphia’s infamous Mütter Museum invites visitors to explore the history of the human body via anatomical specimens and bizarre medical instruments housed in a space reminiscent of a 19th-century mad scientist’s lab, here, visitors will be prompted to move about a bright and airy playground-like room with plushy sculptures. One resembles a giant cluster of blue caviar; another is a curved balancing challenge. The museum’s roof will also function as a huge ergonomic garden where visitors may connect with the their bodies through exercise and relaxation.

BIG also designed the Danish National Maritime Museum, the Lego House in Billund, and the recently announced Blaavand Bunker Museum in Western Denmark. Construction for the Museum of the Human Body is scheduled to begin in 2016, and it will open its doors to the public in 2018.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.