The design competition for The Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, Egypt was the second largest architectural competition in history. The organizers received 1557 entries from 82 countries and on June 2, 2003 Heneghan Peng Architects from Dublin, Ireland, was crowned the winner. 15 years later, the building is nearing completion.
The site for the Grand Egyptian Museum is located at the edge of the first desert plateau between the pyramids and Cairo. It is defined by a 50m level difference, created as the Nile carves its way through the desert to the Mediterranean, a geological condition that has shaped Egypt for over 3,000 years. The pyramids are located in the desert on the plateau 2km from the museum site, while the site for the museum is located both in the valley and on the plateau.
The design of the museum utilizes the level difference to construct a new ‘edge’ to the plateau, a surface defined by a veil of translucent stone that transforms from day to night. The museum exists between the level of the Nile Valley and the plateau, never extending above the plateau. A 3-dimensional structure inscribed by a set of visual axes from the site to the three pyramids defines the framework within which the museum emerges, from the overall scale of the site to the smallest of details. The approach to the museum is a series of layers, whereby the visitor moves through a monumental forecourt, a shaded entrance area and a grand staircase that ascends to plateau level, the level at which the galleries are located where for the first time the visitor sees the pyramids from within the museum.
The museum is envisaged as a cultural complex of activities devoted to Egyptology and will contain 24,000m² of permanent exhibition space, almost 4 football fields in size, a children’s museum, conference and education facilities, a large conservation center and extensive gardens on the site. The collections of the museum include the Tutankhamen collection, that is currently housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the Solar Boat that is now housed beside the pyramids.
After several delays, the museum is aiming for a grand opening for sometime in 2019.
sources: heneghan peng architects, wikipedia