The architectural practice around the Swiss born and New York based architect Bernard Tschumi realised the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, which is located within spitting distance of the world famous archaelogical excavation.
“The challenges of designing the New Acropolis Museum began with the responsibility of housing the most dramatic sculptures of Greek antiquity. This collection of objects shaped the program even before a site was chosen. The building’s polemical location added further layers of responsibility to the design. Located at the foot of the Acropolis, the site confronted us with sensitive archeological excavations, with the presence of the contemporary city and its street grid and with the Parthenon itself, one of the most influential buildings in Western civilization. Combined with a hot climate in an earthquake region, these conditions moved us to design a simple and precise museum with the mathematical and conceptual clarity of ancient Greece.
We first articulated the building into a base, middle and top, which are designed around the specific needs of each part of the program. The base of the museum floats on pilotis over the existing archeological excavations, protecting and consecrating the site with a network of columns placed in careful negotiation with experts so as not to disturb the sensitive work. This level contains the entrance lobby as well as temporary exhibition spaces, an auditorium, and all support facilities.”
“A glass ramp overlooking the archeological excavations leads to the galleries in the middle, in the form of a spectacular double-height room supported by tall columns. This level accommodates displays from the Archaic period to the Roman Empire.
The top, which is made up of the rectangular Parthenon Gallery arranged around an indoor court, rotates gently to orient the marbles of the Frieze exactly as they were at the Parthenon centuries ago. Its transparent enclosure provides ideal light for sculpture in direct view to and from the Acropolis using the most contemporary glass technology to protect the gallery against excessive heat and light. This new setting will offer an unprecedented context for understanding the accomplishments of the Acropolis complex. One of the goals of the top gallery is to reunite the Parthenon Frieze, currently dispersed in several world museums.”