Underground architecture seems to be having a bit of a moment in the sun lately, so we’ve rounded up five of the best recent examples of subterranean projects, including work from BIG, Snøhetta and Hiroshi Sambuichi.
Last month we profiled Yoonseux Architects’ new exit courtyard for the Paris Catacombs. We’ve now dug a little deeper to curate this collection of underground architecture projects. Some are permanent, some temporary installations, but all worth discovering.
1 Enoteca dai Tosi by Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu
The Belgian architects won the commission to design this enoteca, or wine depository, in Matera, in southern Italy. Said to be one of the world’s oldest cities, Matera is famous for its cave dwellings. Inserted into one of these ancient spaces, the enoteca features pops of emerald green – in the lights and a multi-tiered wooden bar table – against a monochromatic background where the herringbone-patterned terracotta floor tiles have been matched to the pale karst stone walls.
2 Lascaux IV Caves Museum by Snøhetta with SRA Architectes
The international centre for cave art, in Montignac, France offers visitors a look at the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory” – the 20,000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings. The museum itself, planted between a forested hillside and the fields of the Vézère Valley, is a jagged structure with an entrance that rises like a mountainscape, before descending below grade. Architects Snøhetta and SRA worked in association with scenographer Casson Mann to create a holistic museum that features replicas of the caves, created through advanced 3-D laser scanning and casting technologies.
3 Residence VDB by Govaert & Vanhoutte Architects
The ultimate bachelor pad, this house in Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium, has a basement that takes the idea of a man cave to the next level, and beyond. Resembling a supervillain’s lair, the open floor plan includes a DJ booth, glazed wine cabinet, long lounge benches, and space for the owner to park a trio of exclusive cars. Dark and moody, the space gains a little light from outside, through a massive window that offers a view into the depths of the pool.
4 Tirpitz Museum by BIG
On the coast of Blåvand, in Denmark, Bjarke Ingels has transformed a German WWII bunker into a new cultural complex that includes galleries and exhibitions dedicated to the Atlantic Wall and the Danish coast. The museum is formed as a series of precise cuts in the dunes, and its delicate forms are built from concrete, steel, glass and wood to contrast the monolithic concrete bunker. Each of the four underground galleries is filled with light, thanks to glass walls that rise six metres high.
5 The Water by Hiroshi Sambuichi
On view until February 2018, Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi has filled the Cisternerne museum, in Copenhagen, with this ethereal installation, Sambuichi’s first major exhibition outside of Japan. The museum, a former underground water reservoir, is now filled with natural light and vegetation, and a series of cedar and cypress footbridges have been added to guide visitors through what the architect calls “a journey through an underground sea of light and darkness.”