Saint-Martin-de-Ré: A tactile model for discovering the fortifications

Ernest Cognacq museum - July 2011


  • Estimated surface area within the walled: 50 ha
  • Number of inhabitants: 2 505 (INSEE census 2011)
  • Administrators subscribed: commune of Saint- Martin-de-Ré, Department of Justice (citadel)
  • Contracting party: Ernest Cognacq museum
  • Contractor: Archi-Tact
  • Implementation: July 2011

A museum open to all
Created from scratch by Vauban to serve as a shelter for the population of the île de Ré in case of enemy landings, the urban fortification of Saint-Martin-de-Ré comprises 14 kilometres of city walls and is completed by a citadel.
The commune of this highly touristic site has been working for several years to raise visitor’s awareness of its fortified heritage.
The award of the label “Pays d’art et d’histoire” (Country of Art and History) in 2012 further served to boost this movement. The Ernest Cognacq museum welcomes 13,000 visitors per year and has been committed for several years to adapting its cultural offer to handicapped visitors. In 2008, it received the prize of Museum for all and has been labelled as a Tourism and Handicap centre.

A multi-dimension mediation tool
How can fortified heritage with its vast proportions and difficult access be made accessible to all? What action needs to be carried out in order to facilitate discovery and mediation to a diverse public? With these issues in mind, the museum created a tactile model in 2011 of the Saint-Martin-de-Ré fortifications featuring the most emblematic buildings on the site. Produced on a 1/1 250 scale based on a relief map from 1703, it was designed to be a point of departure for guided visits and acts as a substitution tool for all partially-sighted visitors who are incapable of physically visiting the city walls. The texts are also translated into Braille, the colours are vivid and contrasting and the height of the model and its dimensions are adapted for children and people in wheelchairs.
It fulfils several objectives:

  • To be a tool for all users: groups, young people, handicapped persons...
  • To be a medium for developing clear mediation;
  • To be a new tool for those involved in tourism and culture.
Finance plan

Project cost: 21,000€ excl. taxes


Positive aspects

The creation of this model enabled the Ernest Cognacq museum to pursue its initiatives for handicapped visitors and to identify itself clearly as a place for interpretation of the fortified heritage of Saint-Martin-de-Ré.

  • Incorporate the needs of handicapped people as soon as the specifications are drawn up;
  • Create a tool which benefits all;
  • Supply the service provider with accurate information;
  • Anticipate the conditions for presentation and the different usages (wheelchairs, children...).