Cayenne, French Guiana
The former Jean Martial hospital has been carrying, since the 18th century, the history of the City of Cayenne and the memories of its populations. Today, it is a natural home for the House of Cultures and Memories of French Guiana. Place of conservation, exhibition, demonstration, cultural expertise, it is intended to be the place of ‘living together’, for the multifaceted Guyanese identity.
The project inserts itself into the architectural and cultural heritage, respecting it and reinventing it at the same time. The two emblematic double-sided roofs, which revisit the ancestral local tradition of the ‘carbet’, accommodate diverse programs, and let the ocean breeze through while protecting from harsh tropical rain and sun. The museum, deployed in the two main buildings of the Jean Martial Hospital, is the backbone. Minimizing physical barriers encourages people to cross through the site like a park.
The collaboration with local and regional representatives, heritage and technical experts, end users, and a local botanist permitted an understanding of even the most subtle constraints and particularities. All of these, from climate to pace of life or supply chains, defined aspects of a sustainable and resilient project: an indigenous design that evolves with its users, and a simple construction that reinforces local know-how and resources.