Once used as a base for Italian and German submarines during World War II, Bassins de Lumières, or “Basins of Light,” serves a far different purpose today. Located in Bordeaux, France, the over 13,000-square-meter space will open to the public in April of 2020 as the world’s largest digital art center.
It was no easy task to turn the building (which had been heavily bombed during the war) into a gallery that both preserves the history of its surroundings and embraces the vibrancy of contemporary art. Culturespaces, the organization that commissioned the project, invested ten million euros in the project, which includes a ticket office, reception area, and gift shop.
Each of the four basins of water is sixteen meters deep. The pools will be obscured by mammoth tarps that double as projection surfaces. Additional footbridges over and around the water ensure that visitors can admire the exhibits from every angle.
Anticipating nearly 350,000 visitors a year, the Bordeaux-based gallery will open with a long-term exhibit by painter Gustav Klimt. The site’s first short-term exhibition will run simultaneously and feature modern master Paul Klee.
Culturespaces plans to feature exhibits that appeal to traditional and modern art lovers alike, offering a fully-immersive, 360-degree experience that centers around the four basins that serve as the focal point of Bassins de Lumières’ architecture.
The gallery will also feature a space, called Le Cube, that will exclusively showcase contemporary digital art. The first installation, “Ocean Data,” will showcase digital art created by studio Ouchhh.
While Culturespaces has opened several other unique venues in a variety of countries, Bassins de Lumières will be the largest of its kind when it opens on April 17th, 2020.