Hans Hollein

Vulcania, Centre européen du volcanisme, 1995

Vulcania was built in 2002, as an international information and documentation centre about vulcanology and the earth sciences, established at the foot of Le Puy de Dôme, in Auvergne. Here Hans Hollein came up with a project which presents the telluric forces at the origin of the creation of our planet. Following in the footsteps of Jules Verne (Journey to the Centre of the Earth), Dante (Inferno) and the illustrations produced by Gustave Doré, the architect proposed “a descent into the abyss, into the subsoil, to the centre of the earth”. The museum is hewn out of the very rock in order to display different volcanic phenomena. A ramp leads from the entrance towards the plaza, in the middle of which a monumental cone rises up from the ground—this is the IMAX auditorium, 28 metres/92 feet high, and covered with lava stone. The opening made at the top lets in natural light, and this is reflected and amplified in the gilded cladding of the inner walls. As an evocation of the volcanoes round about, the monolith symbolizes the creative power of volcanic movements and is presented as a both physical and perceptible counterpoint to cryptic and hidden spaces. Further on, visitors are invited to plunge ever deeper into the mystery of these origins and continue their visit by climbing down into a crater, 30 metres/ 100 feet deep.

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