Description from Coop Himmelb(l)au:
This project for a new Archaeological Museum in Egypt is situated near the excavation site of Tell el-Daba in the eastern Nile delta. Here, Archaeologists could locate the remains of major antique trading centers dating from more than 300 years ago, including Avaris, the Hyaksos capital of the Middle Kingdom, and Pi-Ramesse, the capital of the New Kingdom. Surrounded by agricultural land, the new building will stand out as a landmark on the bank of the Elhosania Fakos River.
The design of the museum, influenced by the history of the site and its specific conditions of topography and climate, and organized by the functional program, lead to a unique architectural space which in turn is responsive to its uses and the environment. The development of the form, derived from the geometry of a truncated pyramid, has been driven by four main strategies.
The building is a walkable monument. From the entrance plaza a spiral ramp leads upwards as a loop around the museum embedded in its sloped exterior surface, thereby offering a gradually charging and widening panoramic view to the surrounding landscape. The walkway ends at the top in front of a cafe and a secondary entrance, which allows the visitors to start their tour inside not only from ground floor, but also from high above.
The main entrance plaza on -5.00m can be reached by a straight ramp set a right angle to the building. Passing by the ticket counter, the visitor enter the exhibition hall, a large and tapered space reaching right under the top of the building volume, thus allowing to accommodate very large exhibits. The hall is framed by the bookshop and the library, while all service functions are hidden at the back of the building.
Starting on the ground floor, the exhibition continues on a large ramp, corresponding to the exterior walkway and spiraling up to the top level of the space, ending at the cafe at the top level. To take shortcuts the visitors can also use the elevators, which stand in the middle of the hall as a towering multifaceted structure. The cafe on the top level can be opned to the general public. From here the visitors can turn back, or complete the round tour on the outside.
Seeing by walking
The exhibition concept follows the idea that the museum experience will be more rewarding for the visitors when the round tour offers more than rows of displays in a neutral space. While moving through the subtle choreography stimulated by the fluidly differentiated sequence of spaces, the visitors of the Archeological Museum Egypt can enjoy the continuous change of perception of perspective, lighting, material texture and climate without disturbing the contemplation of the excavation objects and documents.
The sun is cooling
The monolithic pyramid-like shape of the building maximize the surface exposed to direct sunlight, which benefits also its environmental sustainability: the building envelope has been optimized by integrating parameters like wind and sun into a computer based model for an energy-active facade, a system which allows to use the heat of the outside air to create a pleasantly conditioned ambience. The energy facade contain a thermal air plenum that makes use of the intense solar energy through adiabatic cooling to modulate the temperature and humidity of the interior. The concept aims for a building that generates more energy than it is using itself. The flat top of the energy facade also acts as a giant louvre, filtering down the bright desert light to a diffuse, even illumination of the exhibition hall.