Museum for Underwater Antiquities
Piraeus Cultural Coast
Location:Piraeus, Greece
Area:15 000 m²
Client:Piraeus Port Authority
Additional Consultants:Andrei Uleia

The Competition task:

Redesign of the existing cereals stock house building facilities (silo) and its surrounding open space into a Museum for Underwater Antiquities

The Architectural Concept:   Ship space / Amphora space

The architectural concept is based on the intention to expose the antiquities saved from the sea bed not as meaningless, dead relics, but as objects partially recovering the original significance.
The museum is structured around a strong vertical gesture,  in a monumental space derived from the shape of ancient amphorae and  the shape of ships and simultaneously becomes a ship representing the idea of the journey and an amphora – a symbol for the idea of content. The journey is not only the one that sent the antiquities to the sea but also the one that the archaeologists take to discover them. It is a trip back and forth between civilizations, in search of content.

The Functional Notice

The functional concept organizes the 15000 sqm required program in the existing volumes in order to keep the feeling of the original use of the building.  The museum incorporates galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, organized in six thematic axes, a multimedia education centre and library, research laboratories as well as restoration and storage facilities.
The cells space will be used as exhibition space and storage rooms for finds. The cells volume is cut in a monumental atrium, curved towards the sea, illustrating the dual concept of ship space – amphora space, with a central vertical circulation. The escalators become a strong symbol of the journey, organizing the whole building around them.
At the top, the cells volume is cut to form a public space – an outdoor amphitheater accessible by an exterior staircase available independently of the museum schedule.
One of the suction pylons will be attributed to museum use, the remaining two will be linked together and fitted to house an unconventional flexible function: club, bar, contemporary art gallery .

The thematic axes

The Museum’s permanent exhibition will be organized inside the cells along the vertical circulation represented by the escalators allowing a properly structured, flowing narration,  developed through six distinct thematic axes, which will be ‘read’ independently of each other but also combined. These axes will include as much original archaeological material as possible and will be complemented by various interpretive means and by a considerable number of educational actions, in approximately equiponderant proportion, in order to serve a shorter or longer visit of the Museum.
The monumental atrium with a total area of 900 square meters and a 20 m height allows the display of large objects and the possibility to observe them at different levels through the upper floors.  The curved cut emphasizes the structure of the cells – a reference at both the original building function and the concept of the time capsule.  It is a proper space to exhibit contemporary artist’s installation, inspired by the close and diachronic relation of the Greeks with the sea or part of the original hull of a 12th c. Byzantine vessel.

The Volume

Keeping the impact it has on the port skyline, we mainly focused our intervention to the interior: a monumental cut illustrating the same dual approach: targeting the city but also the sea: space – journey / space- content
The inner atrium has the proportions of a cargo: 1 of 8 in plan and it turners towards the water, curves to the harbor – the escalators in the centre become a strong symbol of the journey, organizing the whole building around them.
The cells space will be used as exhibition space and storage rooms for finds.
The Clock Tower, the port symbol is highlighted by longitudinal translucent volumes. The building is essentialized , decomposed into parts: the massive warehouse silhouette and the slim figure of the tower are revealed by superposing the delicate translucent volumes.