The Grand Egyptian Museum
Giza, Egypt • 2002
The dynamic epistemology of Egyptology has been a subject of great public interest for centuries, with various conflicting theories and evolutions of thought occurring with each new discovery. Our concept is borne of a diagrammatic approach that seeks to address the fundamentally fluid nature of this knowledge, and house it in an appropriate form that is loaded with symbolism and and a sense of power. The diagram is the architecture.
In a world of ever deepening information, traditional museum typologies must give way to a new spatial condition that allow greater navigational flexibility. The spatial possibilities of alternative museum topology is commensurate to this approach. Indeed, the integration of information technology within a rich hypertextual organism that can respond to the addition and reorganisation of both physical and virtual content is the primary design concern of this submission.
The most pressing architectural problem facing any museum, and particularly the Great Egyptian Museum, is that of connecting various thematic routes throughout various points in time. After months of research into various topological and typological opportunities, we have established that the most appropriate form of chronological navigation, both metaphorically and functionally, is a double helix, with its beginnings and endings at the same point in space.
This means that the visitor will always return to the point of arrival without back-tracking, and may experience time either forward, or backward. This folded loop symbolises eternity, a return to the source, reincarnation and the general cyclical aspect of the Egyptian world view. The imperative need to be able to both navigate within a particular theme or sub-set, and also be exposed to the entire catalogue of artefacts in one continuous visit, meant that a superimposition of chronology and theme needs to occur. We have resolved this by simply duplicating the thematic route diagram a number of times (grouped into appropriate chronological epochs).
This layering means that, through vertical circulation cores at localised themes and sub-themes, a visitor could specialise in say, war though the ages, without having to traverse a vast array of relatively insignificant information.
Deeper hypertextual routes that do coincide with other sub-set exhibits could still be experienced through downloadable itineraries at the entrance, or at any number of media stations positioned at the ramps. Since no spatial provision or recommendation was made in the brief for chronological groupings of content, we have used the relative areas of thematic content as the basis of our diagram and distributed this randomly across the four major ramps.
We used a responsive and flexible formal topology (metaformed blobs that we call Theme Chambers) to contain these exhibits as we do not at this stage know what the relative distribution of content through the ages will be. We hoped that in the second stage we will have more information in this regard and the architectural diagram will crystalise into a more stable form, but with an ultimate view towards the chambers being able to change size in the long term.