Register: JAN/27/2019, Submit: JAN/30/2019, Eligibility: Students, graduated, freelance architects, designers, artists; individually, teams (any number of members, at least one member between 18 and 35 years old, members can to be from different countries and universities), Fee: 75 EUR (OCT/29 – NOV/25/2018), 100 EUR (NOV/26 – DEC/23/2018), 150 EUR (DEC/24/2018 – JAN/27/2019); +22% VAT, Awards: 1st Prize 10,000 EUR, 2nd Prize 4,000 EUR, 3rd Prize 2,000 EUR, 4 Gold Mentions 1,000 EUR each, 5 “Castle Choice” Mentions, 5 Honorable Mentions, 30 Finalists

There is a special fascination in ruins. There is a sublime hint in dissolved architectures. There is something moving in the pulverizing of time. Silence takes over the architecture. In the long sunset that follows abandonment and preludes destruction, nature completes the design of mankind by taking space back according to its own pace. In that moment, something magical happens. In that moment, architecture gives way to ruins. The castle of Mothe Chandeniers, France, is a perfect ruin. It is lost in the French countryside. It is a gothic lace embroidered in stone. It is an enchanted mirage fluctuating on a calm lake. It is embraced by jealous vegetation that has been twining its bastions and architectures as a greedy lover. The castle evokes an intimate embrace between history, architecture and nature. Faraway from mankind, this place has achieved its most resplendent beauty. However, now it needs mankind in order to forestall its ultimate destruction.

Dartagnans is a fund aiming at protecting and safeguarding the international artistic heritage. Recently, it has purchased the castle thanks to more than 27910 shareholders’ donations. Today, through YAC, Mothe Chandeniers invites designers to highlight the natural fascination of the castle in order to transform it into a destination of contemplation and relax for tourists and visitors from all over the world.

How to transform a ruin into a cutting edge tourist-accommodation facility? How to make a neo-gothic shell communicate with contemporary architecture? These are the questions on which Common Ruins lays its foundations. This competition offers designers the opportunity to dedicate their own design action to one of the most fascinating ruins in the world. They will do so by designing a visitors’ center aiming at ensuring a unique, spiritual and regenerating hospitality experience.

At the sunset of a building, architecture itself has to protect the remarkable combination of human action and natural activity that is the fascination of Mothe Chandeniers. Architecture has to save the castle from the erosion of time in order to give it back to the community that purchased it. It is an unprecedented challenge that invites designers to deal with a place with a surreal beauty able to create oneiric and refined holiday scenarios. Designers will have to highlight such feature carrying out an architectural intervention aiming to be the milestone of contemporary architecture.


Decades of abandonment have significantly affected the structural elements of the castle. Fire and weathering have highly deteriorated their static performances. Consequently, the first intervention to the castle will be a consolidation operation. According to the purposes of the owners, this operation will aim at maintaining the current state of the ruins, including its main trees. After consolidating the castle from collapses, a series of contemporary architectural interventions will be finally carried out. They will enhance the visit, the discovery and the extraordinary potential of the castle. To this end, a distinction should be drawn between different interventions:

Area A

It includes the castle, the moat and the chapel. Demolitions are not permitted. It is possible to carry out whichever new intervention aiming at improving the visit/discovery of the castle. It is possible to insert suspended routes, gangways, new volumes and floating, raised or suspended structures. Designers can choose between maintaining or removing trees according to their interpretation of the castle. They can preserve its romantic feature of ruin or 7 partially recover its original splendor.

Area B

it includes the garden. Any intervention is admitted. The creation of new above ground or underground spaces will be admitted as long as they mark a route that improves the usability of the castle. On this route the new architectures will have to guarantee particularly fascinating views respecting both nature and the historical architectures. A rearrangement of the green areas and hydraulic systems is admitted too (new stretches of water, canals etc.).

Any intervention will have to aim at:

  • improving the accessibility/visitability of the castle
  • guaranteeing the full legibility of the contemporary intervention, through a distinguishable relationship between the nature, the ancient and the contemporary
  • achieving the best environmental sustainability
  • using materials which are consistent with the historical architecture (they can be either assonant or dystonic elements) and lush surroundings
  • guaranteeing the best usability for disabled visitors


The competition Commons ruins offers architects an unprecedented tapestry of design stimuli. The issue of the relationship between artificial and natural is a fundamental feature of a place where the stone acanthuses of the Gothic ironically meet the living ones that have grown in the ruins. This place also delves into the dialogue between ancient and contemporary. It is the most refined example to think of such relationship. In the castle, architecture, nature and history tell their most remarkable story. They evoke and express the deeply romantic feeling that probably inspired the nineteenth-century renovation. The challenge of Mothe Chandeniers deals with the mysterious relationship between the different elements that compose the unique beauty of a place. It also deals with uses and new tourist-accommodation models. As a matter of fact, the castle is owned by a fund that protects the interest of more than 27,910 investors. Any tourist interpretation of the castle will have to take into account the collective and shared aspect of the real estate. Consequently, it will have to focus on uses aiming at an individual and experiential discovery of the ruins as part of visit models that have to be as open and common as possible. Therefore, designers will have to meet the need of an exclusive, interior, emotional experience (consistent with the nature of the castle) considering the complexity of a high number of users. Hereby follows a list of different functional possibilities. It is important to underline that the composition, integration and reshuffling of these scenarios shall be under total discretion of designers.

1. Visitors’ center

Mothe Chandeniers is a rare and valuable sedimentation of the European and French history. Its stories are linked to people as Louis XIII, cardinal Richelieu, Napoleon and other distinguished men and women. For this reason, the facility will have to include suitable spaces to tell the story of the castle and the families who lived in it. Designers will have to create an architectural route around the castle. It will have to ensure the knowledge of the stories of the fortress including a series of spectacular views on the ruins. This is one of the numerous elements aiming at witnessing and enhancing the history of the castle.

2. Shop

This place will include the merchandising of the castle and a specialized bookshop. Here, medieval literature and non-fiction can find their perfect place surrounded by suggestive and fascinating ruins.

3. Restaurant/biofarm

In this space visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing break tasting French food and wine specialties. Cheeses, game and delicious wines will ensure a multi-sensory experience of the castle. The visual discovery of fascinating spaces will be combined with the discovery of typical tastes and scents of the past and the tradition of this breathtaking area of France.

4. Theater/events area

Mothe Chandeniers is an extraordinary natural scenery flat. It is the perfect set design for any show or artistic/musical performance. Today as in the 16th century, the castle will host actors, musicians and performers again. In this place they will entertain the audience ensuring suggestive experiences where art can boast an enchanted context able to enhance contents and meanings.

5. Castle villas

Mothe Chandeniers will have to ensure adequate hospitality solutions for all those visitors who want to escape their everyday routine to relax in the castle. Anytime of the year, Mothe Chandeniers can guarantee a remarkable and prodigious splendor, also thanks to the ever-changing sky and colors of nature. Minimal modules in the ruins, floating elements on the stretches of water, suites equipped with any comfort and glass windows framing the suggestive views of the castle are some of the possible solutions to ensure an original and exclusive offer. Tourists will enjoy a regenerating context both for the spirit and the body.

6. Wellness services

Observing the castle covered in snow immersed in the vapors of a heating swimming pool is just one of the possible scenarios of wellness services. They can either be private and situated in every castle villa or centralized and public. The integration of such elements will guarantee a unique and unforgettable experience of the castle.

7. Nature/ruins observatory

It is an equipped trail to better discover the castle and the surrounding nature. Gangways connecting the ruins, meditation and relax spaces or panoramic viewpoints will have to guide visitors in a unique experience. It will be ideal to catch sight of animals, observe seasons or discover every valuable detail of the castle. This trial will enable visitors to stand on the porticos that slight touch water, observe sensual roots twining the castle and find hidden friezes or statues peeking out from scented piles of dry leaves.