A place that is both singular and emblematic of the Bassins à Flot district of Bordeaux, the Base Sous-Marine is an impressive trace of the Second World War, built between 1941 and 1943 by the German navy to house the U-boats of the 12th fleet. The project was enormous, mobilising over 6,500 French and foreign workers (Spanish, Italian, Belgian…) to construct the building, which consisted of 11 pens able to house up to 15 submarines. The “U-Bunker” measures 235 m in length, 160 m in width and 19 m in height on average, with a total area of 42,000 m². The total volume of concrete used is 600,000 m³. Designed to last centuries, the Base Sous-Marine completed the Atlantic Wall, a huge defensive complex along the coast.
Converted into an exhibition space in 2000, the Base Sous-Marine now occupies a vital position in Bordeaux’s cultural landscape. For several years, the City of Bordeaux has been developing an artistic programme resolutely focused on emerging and emblematic forms of contemporary creation in the Annexe, a key facility for cultural policy. Every year, the Base Sous-Marine presents three temporary exhibitions and welcomes over 100,000 visitors. These exhibitions aim to reveal the architecture of this singular building with interventions by established or emerging contemporary artists. The many artists presented include Georges Rousse in 2014, JR in 2016, Daniel Firman in 2017 and Miguel Chevalier in 2018.