THE NEW CYPRUS MUSEUM
an open garden to the city
The New Cyprus museum is the place, where history is experienced and ‘cityness’ is exercised. It is an archipelago of ‘commons’, a landmark to the city of Nicosia. It is part of the constellation of ideals, which form an extensive eco-cultural belt for the city that runs from the north to the south. It is an open protected museum that invites visitors and citizens alike to stroll in its gardens and enjoy cultural and educational activities. Two control safety hubs are placed towards northeast (the city) and west (the river) of the site notating the entrance points to the museum garden. These allow for the safe access to the New Cyprus Museum from the old archeological museum, the municipal garden, the Pedaios river pedestrian walk, and from the city centre, the old Venetian walls.
The museum consists primarily of a bioclimatic translucent canopy, in which holes are open to notate the garden and the exhibition space. These bring more or less light, more or less openness, to the garden and the exhibition space respectively. The round shaped holes define a sequence of gardens and allow for height vegetation (trees) to grow through them. The protruding cocoon structures of the exhibition space control the light that enters. The canopy is equipped with a light control system distilling the natural light to the interior spaces. It offers shade to the exterior ones and it protects the landscape against the strong summer sun of Nicosia.
The Museum is low rise, a total of 7 meters height and blends into the landscape. It consists of the following spatial enclosures: the info point housed within the old building, the coffee-restaurant, the shop, the exhibition space and finally the library and the offices of the department of antiquities to be build in the second stage. All the above spaces are covered by the bioclimatic translucent canopy and are linked by a sequence of gardens. These gardens are named after important myths of the Cypriot ancient history and renowned Cypriot archeologists. The most prominent central one –the garden of Aphrodite – is a tribute to the classical period of Cypriot history. Next to it towards the west the visitor can find the kids open air museum and the library garden. This central open space of commons is going to act like a social hub bringing together visitors and citizens of Nicosia with the cultural services it will offer, the high-quality catering services (restaurants, cafeterias) and retail sales (museum shops). It will also act as an open entrance hall for the exhibition spaces, permanent and periodical. Through this space the visitor can enter the conference room that is located on the basement, using a ramp that starts of near the restaurant- cafeteria. This ramp forms a boundary between the central garden space and the library that is partly revealing its presence by a wall of books. The gardens housing plants of the Cyprus countryside are going to stress the importance of the islands landscape in the formation of its history.
The main exhibition space is characterized by the presence of cocoon structures that house exhibitions and offer a gaze to the sky and a dig to the storage rooms of the museum. These are inspired by the Neolithic settlements of Cypriot history and offer a variety of typology in relation to size, section and shape and flexibility for the display of the artifacts. In parallel their double skin controls light and allow for physical ventilation, thus playing an important bioclimatic role for the control of the exhibition space inner environment. The entrance hall of the exhibition spaces gives access to the permanent and the periodical exhibitions. The visitors entering the permanent exhibition are guided through a timeline wall of Cyprus ancient history. They can also visit the cocoons that house different thematic parts of the exhibition. Their visit can be a chronological one or one of their choice. The cocoons don’t touch the ground allowing partly glimpses to their interior and the exhibited artifacts in a way that on one hand they facilitate the visitors’ orientation and on the other hand by not revealing too much they provoke a visit. The cocoon that houses “Aphrodite and her cult” placed centrally becomes a landmark for the museum. The visitors as they leave the museum they are offered with a display of the later excavated artifact or alternatively the object of the month.
The storage spaces are located under the exhibition spaces. What is of crucial importance for the exhibition space of the museum is the notion of the movable floor that facilitates the transportation of artifacts from the store rooms to the display area. In parallel to the movable floor the cocoon structures bring the notion of excavation, the concept of the dig as they dissect the basement were the storage rooms are. Thus they offer a glimpse to the stored items; the latter is of great importance as in contemporary terms the true power of the museum lays on the abundance of its belongings. By the use of the movable floor the items on view being above to those on storage bellow allow the visitor to partly visit its stored collection; thus the museum becomes a mogul art collector with global impact.
New Cyprus Museum
status architecture competition
area 30,000 m2
location Nicosia, Cyprus
team Chrysostomos Theodoropoulos (team leader), Eleni Livani, Anastasia Verteouri (associates), Nelly Marda, Fotis Anastasiadis (architects)