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The New Egyptian Museum

Part 2 Project 2003
Richard Watson
Matthew Austin
Newcastle University Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK
The New Egyptian Museum, Giza, Cairo

The design consisted of two separate phases. The first was a conceptual design for the competition, while the second, the development of a separate concept influenced by three main theories, Northern Alignment, path-space analysis of the Ancient Egyptian Temples and the Ancient Vernacular courtyard form. Spatially the museum has a clear hierarchy: to the west is the entrance, conference facilities and administration, then five thematic exhibitions; Kingship and State, Religion, Man Society and Work, The Land of Egypt, Culture, and Scribes and Knowledge, each aligned north-south and stepping down in scale to the east where finally one meets with the Tutankhamun Collection. Here the scale increases to signify the passage into the Afterlife, culminating in a decent past the magnificent Tutankhamun Burial Mask and down into the dark depths of the underground metro which allows a rapid return journey to the entrance foyer. To the north side of each court are Laboratories (Papyrus, ceramics, glass etc.), while to the south, visitor services with views to Cairo and the Pyramids. A buried basement, with extensive temporary exhibits and service routes along the northern extremity, exploits the earth-like surroundings in which many of the exhibits were originally found. This allows much of the museum to be housed within a basement level while reducing the impact on the sensitive World Heritage site. The New Museum seeks to improve this desert context through extensive planting of Doom and Date palm, Mulberry, Sycamore and Lotus trees, which provide symbolic links back to Ancient Pharaonic Traditions of planting, while supporting local employment through the harvesting of fruit. The overall design is ordered by three movement hierarchies; the journey from the central underground parking facility which takes the visitor either to the Pyramid site or the New Museum, the rapid underground metro with entrance, middle courtyard or Tutankhamun Stations, and finally the pedestrian meandering walk down through each courtyard space.

Richard Watson

Richard Watson
Matthew Austin


The project was submitted to the international competition for The Grand Egyptian Museum, sited adjacent to the Pyramids at Giza. The result of the competition has just been announced, and to summarise the submissions, out of 1553 entries, Richard Watson’s scheme has been included within the top 20 entries as one of the most distinctive designs of the first phase, which is to be published shortly in the form of a book. This is an extordinary achievement. The design is totally sustainable and produces all it’s energy needs from solar power, collected by PV louver blades, that shade the day-lit museum spaces. In addition the project is also powered by date-palm oil which would be harvested from the palm forest, that covers and landscapes the sloping site, facing the Pyramids: a similar principle to that of the Reichstag, Berlin, designed by Lord Foster, which uses energy stored below the ground in aquifers, and is exploited to chill exposed thermal mass ceilings and other needs of heating. The overall design submitted for the competition in September 2002, has been succeeded by four further variants during the final semesters. The project illustrated here, in part draws upon research of the Ancient Egyptian Temples, in their order of both plan and section, which is founded upon a repeated courtyard form, a giver of shade and sheltered tranquillity. The Museum spaces have been designed to contain a fabulous treasury, including The Tutankhamun Collection. The Museum is scaled for progressive expansion of the exhibits, as they arrive from the Valley of the Kings and elsewhere, and will include ultimately, the finds of Queen Nefertiti.

Design Tutor: Professor Ivor Richards

Tutor(s)

2003
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