Built in 1943 by the occupying German army, the U-boat pen in Bordeaux has always been an embarrassment for the French city.

However, an enlightened idea for a new exhibition space could soon change that.

The wine region's recognition as a Unesco World Heritage site and beautiful river valley already draws in 5.8 million tourists a year. Now there are designs to make it home to the world's largest centre for digital art, inside an old WWII bunker.

The work of Gustav Klimt will be the first to illuminate the space. Photo / Supplied
The work of Gustav Klimt will be the first to illuminate the space. Photo / Supplied

The project will be called Les Bassins de Lumieres or "Pools of Enlightenment" and is set to open in April next year.

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By projecting imagery on the walls the dark, concrete basins it will become a giant immersive installation.

The plan to transform the submarine dock into a public attraction may give new life to this building with a deeply troubled past.

The building itself is an unusual canvas.

The U-boat pen in Bordeaux has always been an embarrassment for the French city. Photo / SUpplied
The U-boat pen in Bordeaux has always been an embarrassment for the French city. Photo / SUpplied

It contains four 12-metre deep pools, each the length of a soccer field.

Linked by narrow gangways, visitors will be able to attend exhibitions in the space which was once to home a fleet of hunter submarines used to sink shipping.

U-Boat: The submarine pens were built by the occupying German army. Photo / Getty Images
U-Boat: The submarine pens were built by the occupying German army. Photo / Getty Images

Behind the project is a company called Culturespaces. This group of digital artists were behind the award-winning exhibition Atelier des Lumieres (Studio of the Lights) in Paris, which projected the work of Van Gogh onto industrial buildings.

However at this bunker provides a space five times that of Atelier. There is room for 14,500 square metres of projection.

Each of the four pools is the length of a soccer field. Photo / Supplied
Each of the four pools is the length of a soccer field. Photo / Supplied

The first exhibition to move into the old submarine pen will be an exhibition of the work of Gustav Klimt. The turn of the century Austrian Painter's swirling dreamlike paintings will be a perfect fit for the space and its reflective pools.

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Culturespaces says their work will be "perfectly adapted to the monumental architecture of the submarine base."

The plan is to have an annual exhibition "devoted to the major artists in the history of art, and a shorter exhibition devoted to more contemporary works."

The space will be open to the public seven days a week.