Country : Ireland
Team Leader : Shih-Fu Peng, Heneghan.Peng.Architects
Team Member : Roisin Heneghan, Edel Tobin, Alicia Gomis-Perez, Arup, Buro Happold, Bartenbach L'chtlabor GmbH.
LOOKING TO CAIRO: The New Museum is located at the first desert plateau outside Cairo; between the Pyramids and Cairo. It acts at the intersection between Modernity and Antiquity, literally redirecting the traveler from the modernity of Cairo and Alexandria to the ancient heritage of the Egyptians. From the urban design perspective, the museum is an ‘inscription’, marking the point at which the visitor changes direction from the city towards the Pyramids. The museum traces a new profile for the plateau without competing with the Pyramids, utilizing its siting and length to operate within the horizontal flows so indicative of modern vision and movement.
THE FIFTH FAÇADE - A New Horizon: The New Museum is situated at the intersection of two cones of vision, the view to the Pyramids and the view to Cairo. The view to the Pyramids is inscribed into the structural lines of the museum. The View to Cairo is traced by the path of the Nile Park, which extends from the Dunal Park at the plateau level, across the folds in the Roof and is inscribed into the lines that define the Piazza as it extends to the city. The structural folds that form the roof extend the dune landscape of the site, maintaining the line of the desert plateau whilst constructing the space for a new horizon to view the city of Cairo.
SCULPTING WITH LIGHT - Movement in Void: From the scale of the site to the scale of the display case, light carves and defines the spaces of the New Museum Complex, from its open-air system of parks to its precisely controlled environments of artifacts. Two bands of light divide the site into three bands. The first band is the lower plateau, which is the infra-structural area by the roadside. The second band is the ascent to plateau representing the cultural area of the GEM. The third band is the upper plateau, which is the natural area of the Dunal Park. Light excavates the primary systems of movement through the plateau, through the light-filled “Grand Staircase”, the void of the translucent stone wall, and the visual causeway. Digital streams are light voids that carve through the plateau to be occupied as needed by the infrastructure.
THE GRAND STAIRCASE - The Chronological Route: The light-filled “Grand Staircase” ascends from the lobby to the permanent exhibition galleries on the top floor stopping off at special exhibitions, conservation workshops, temporary exhibitions, and the “Archaeological Main Storage”. The staircase is the chronological route within the museum, culminating in the view of the Pyramids at the top of the stair. The “Grand Staircase” is an identifiable reference point, which allows visitors to navigate easily through the vast collection.
THE Hyper-textual nodes of Display Itineraries: The permanent exhibition areas on the top floor are organized in five thematic bands within the structure constructed by the visual axes to the Pyramids, the sixth band being the chronological route of the grand stair. Hyper-textual nodes and “Sculpture Garden Courts” provide primary cross-movement between the thematic bands. The structural roof folds follow the spatial organisation of the thematic bands; controlled light is brought in, through the roof folds. A clear organisation is provided to a large space yet still allowing flexible modes of display. The hyper-textural nodes and sculpture garden courts, which act as points of reference for the navigation of the collection, operate as rest-points for the visitors as well. One such point of reference is the court dedicated to Tutankhamun. The light court of the collection of Tutankhamun is a triangular cut into the building that registers on the facade the importance of the collection inside. In certain areas the floor is excavated to allow the visitor to descend to special rooms under the galleries where special exhibits occur.
DIGITAL STREAMS: Paradoxically, the success of technological integration is its eventual invisibility. In order to mesh technology into the new museum, technology is transformed into an architectural element; in this case into digital streams that operate spatially between the spatial bands that define thematic galleries. The walls that define the digital streams become the primary technology infrastructure element in the galleries supporting the interactive display requirements of individual showcases.
THE GRAND EGYPTIAN MUSEUM: The GEM is not a singular museum in the traditional sense. It is constructed as a complex of different activities, which contribute to a cultural environment that is centered on Egyptology. By weaving different navigation routes through the complex, the world of ancient Egypt can be explored in different modes and levels. The museum is both a repository of cultural artifacts and an interactive cultural resource.