Corbis has announced the launch of a million pound project that it hopes will ensure its Sygma Collection of photographs survives the test of time.

The new "shoebox" can be found in a secure location just outside a sleepy town on the outskirts of Paris, and holds around 50 million photographs taken over the last century.

The photographs, which feature everything from war to celebrities, will be housed in a specifically designed building with the sole purpose of stopping the deterioration of the photographs, slides, negatives and transparencies held within.

Taking 5 years to build, the glorified "shoebox" might only be 800m square in size, however comes with 4.3 miles of temperature- and humidity-controlled shelf space.

Designed to allow the photo licensing firm to keep photos for hundreds if not thousands of years, the new building will keep the photographs of some of the most famous events and people in the world up to a rather chilly -20 degrees Celsius.

"If we didn't do this the collection will disintegrate in less than 30 years", an employee for the company told us.

But it's not just about sticking it in the freezer and being done with it. The facility is protected by a series of air-locks, a special gas system in case of fire (you can't just use water) and even the way the images are stored in the special boxes.

If that wasn't enough each of the 50m artefacts have, over the last 3 years, been painstakingly noted. Every picture, says Corbis, in the collection has been catalogued based on photographer rather than just the subject.

Corbis is hoping the move to protect its photo collection in France (in the US its collection is kept in a storage facility the company refers to as "The Mine") will entice news agencies, design studios and anyone wanting to use its photos to be able to do so over the next century, rather than just the next couple of decades.

Although not open to the public, photographers will be able to access some 800,000 photos within the collection online or via specific research requests.