A unique architecture

A unique project for an immersive experience.

The only architectural project of its kind in Europe

Architecture, scenography and acoustic design dedicated to nature and the centre's mission.

Nausicaá is so much more than just an aquarium. The architecture, scenography and soundscape design are in turn fascinating, disconcerting and unique, all at the service of nature and Nausicaá's messages. The technology behind Europe's largest aquarium is also very impressive.

Nausicaá: architecture and a vision

An extraordinary and unprecedented project

When you visit the Journey on the High Seas exhibition, the discovery of the "great ocean show" offers an unprecedented panorama, and an incredible vision of the marine landscape of the high seas. The impression of diving into the depths of the ocean. This moment is all the more unique as Nausicaá is the only aquarium in Europe to introduce the public to the high seas, this maritime realm that is so highly coveted and that forms the basis of the planet's stability.

the great ocean show at nausicaa

The pressure of the water on the large bay window is very impressive.

The 500 metric tons of water pressure have sealed the bay window into the wall, making it watertight. The ceiling of the observation room relieves some of the pressure on the glass window, which could not withstand the pressure alone. This 1.10 m thick concrete slab can support the weight of 3 armoured tanks. It absorbs the force of the water on the large bay window, which is around several dozen metric tons.

This high-seas tank is the culmination of a technical feat, the focal point of an extraordinary construction project.

This huge bay window covers a surface area of 100 m², is 20 metres long and 5 metres high.

The glass is 38 cm thick and weighs 54 metric tons.It was produced in Italy and transported by road from Rome, requiring a special crane to be installed to carry and position it.

The volume of this tank is 10,000 m3 and it took 6 weeks to fill it. With its length of 60 m, width of 35 m and depth of 8 m, the giant high-seas tank is the largest tank in Europe.


A setting conceived for a highly immersive and sensorial experience

The giant high-seas tank holds a central place on the tour and offers a highly immersive and sensorial experience. The architecture of the building, designed by Jacques and Sophie Rougerie, is inspired by the marine world and the silhouette of the manta ray, which, seen from the sky, spreads its wings towards the ocean.

The scenography adds to the immersive experience from the surface to the abyss through its looped composition, the choice of materials, the atmospheres and sounds, and the lighting, all of which are designed to plunge visitors into the high seas.

This immersion into the world of the high seas awakens all the senses. The music is an orchestration of sounds carefully crafted to match the interior architecture of the building. It mixes real sounds, such as the sound recording of sperm whales, with imaginary sounds created in the studio. The acoustic concept is as much a part of the visitor experience as the scenography.

A technical challenge every day

First of all, a few figures: Nausicaá features 10,000 m² of exhibition space and the total volume of its tanks represents 17,000 m3 of water.

If all the pipes used to treat the water were laid end to end, they would cover a distance of 7 km. The water circuits of the two exhibitions are not connected to each other. The "Mankind and Shores" exhibition has 11 independent water treatment circuits (8 for sea water and 3 for fresh water); the "Journey on the High Seas" exhibition has 2 circuits, both for sea water.

What is the water circuit at Nausicaá?

The tanks at Nausicaá are supplied with sea water that is taken directly from the sea here in Boulogne-sur-Mer: 1% of fresh seawater is added to the large tank every day and the water in this tank is renewed 6 times a day; and 1% of the water in the large tank goes back into the sea after being purified.

Water quality is essential to provide optimal living conditions for the 58,000 animals that live in Nausicaá, whether in the exhibition areas or in the aquariological reserves. Therefore, samples are taken from the tanks every day for physico-chemical, chemical and microbiological analysis.

Water filtration is vital for all of the tanks. With the opening of the Journey on the High Seas exhibition in 2018, a "cathedral" was installed to filter the water in the aquariums: each filter containing filter sand weighs 17 metric tons.

Energy and lighting

As you will see during your visit, the light that fills the aquariums varies according to the time of day.

A significant amount of the lighting in the large tanks, such as the high-seas tank, the sea lion tank, the submerged forest tank or the penguin tank, is natural. The windows and openings in the roofs let in light and thus follow the cycles of the seasons and the lunar cycles.

Additional lighting controlled by timer is provided by special LED bulbs. There is even a blue night light that mimics the moonlight.

The "scenic" lighting is switched off at night. Therefore, only natural moonlight passes through the openings above the large High-Seas tank, to resemble the conditions in the natural environment as closely as possible.

The energy needed to run Nausicaá is 100% renewable and produced locally. Thus, 75% of the heat required to heat the centre and the water in the tanks comes from internally recycled energy and the remaining 25% is supplied by Boulogne's urban heating network.

Nausicaá: architecture and a vision

"Nausicaá. The Sea is on Earth. National Sea Centre. Boulogne-sur-Mer. Architecture and a vision.

Voice-over: "For 25 years, Nausicaá has striven to bring people and the ocean closer together, to explain the fundamental role of the marine environment in our everyday lives and the importance of preserving it. The task of creating Nausicaá was originally entrusted to Jacques Rougerie. The architect modelled his work on the messages and values of the National Sea Centre. It was right here in Paris, rooted on the banks of the Seine, in the architect's offices, that the lines and volumes of what would become the largest aquarium in Europe were born."

Jacques Rougerie, Architect of the Grand NAUSICAA: "The visitor must be gradually led into the very depths of this underwater space. Initially, I wanted to design a building that was similar to bionics, to biomimicry, in other words, to nature. This building was immediately incorporated into an environmental approach."

Bionic architecture with a strong symbolic message.

Jacques Rougerie, Architect of the Grand NAUSICAA: "It starts with an initiation, because not everyone has such a keen awareness of the underwater world, but they still feel the need to learn, to know and to understand".

Voice-over: "Architect Jacques Rougerie has always combined his two greatest passions: construction and the marine environment. Nausicaá is a building with a silhouette that immediately reveals its purpose. In the Grand NAUSICAA, immersion will be more gradual, and deeper too."

Jacques Rougerie, Architect of the Grand NAUSICAA : "As soon as the public arrives, they know that this is building is all about nature, but not just any nature. The nature of the ocean, the underwater world, and then suddenly, they set off on a journey. It is completely detached from the outside world, the environment, from the urban fabric of Boulogne-sur-Mer. It is at the very heart of the ocean."

Voice-over: "But Nausicaá carries a message, which says that the ocean plays a role in the future of mankind."

Jacques Rougerie, Architect of the Grand NAUSICAA: "Together, we sought the guiding, evocative, architectural lines that would give us the construction features to build the skeleton and then the skin of the building."

Voice-over: "The strength of this architecture, the contours of this building, is the signature, the transcription of Jacques Rougerie's message."

Jacques Rougerie, Architect of the Grand NAUSICAA: "Above all, the dream is to take people under the sea. The dream is to convey this passion and above all, make people understand not just the significance of this potential and this environment, but the protection that we owe it for the future of mankind. So, tools are needed, which gives me even greater incentive to spread the word through tools like Nausicaá. It is all about helping the general public to understand these major issues. This is what I am proud of, this continuity and this transfer of knowledge. It is from the ocean that the destiny of future civilisations will be born."

Production: NEOGRAPHIC Productions

Editorial committee: NAUSICAA

GRAND Nausicaá film: Consortium SOGEA CARONI Jacques ROUGERIE Architecte & ARSCENES Scénographie

Music: KPM KPM 0909 03601 EARTHBOUNG B Gareth David Coker.wav

SATV SATVCD 0065 01091 BEAUTY HORIZON Alexander Rudd Zach Lemmon Dominic Marsh.wav