The Republic of Cyprus has launched an open international competition for a £43 million archaeological museum in Nicosia (Deadline: 9 January)
The two-stage competition, to be judged by Archigram founder Peter Cook, seeks concepts for what will be called the New Cyprus Museum. It will replace the island nation’s existing 131-year-old archaeological museum (pictured), which lacks enough space for its growing collections.
Source: image by George G
The Cyprus Museum in central Nicosia first opened during the British occupation in 1882, and holds the world’s most extensive collections of Cypriot antiquities with only a fraction of items currently on display.
The Neoclassical building, designed by N Balanos, features 14 chronological display halls surrounding a central block containing offices, a library and laboratories.
The new museum will be constructed on the site of the Nicosia Old General Hospital, which was controversially demolished in 2010. The Bauhaus-inspired city centre complex, designed by Polyvios Michaelides in 1936, closed 10 years ago and was replaced with a new suburban hospital.
The New Cyprus Museum project was first announced by president Nicos Anastasiades last summer as part of a £150 million programme of schemes intended to boost economic activity in the Cypriot capital.
The commission comes four years after a devastating financial crisis which saw Cyprus shut down its second-largest bank in return for an £8.6 billion EU bailout.
The Cyprus Architects Association has received a petition, featuring 74 signatures, calling for changes to the competition rules, which potentially exclude local firms.
Second stage competitors must have at least 12 years’ professional experience and have completed a similar project worth at least €8 million. The petition argues that Cypriot practitioners, who have faced a shortage of public cultural commissions following the financial crisis, would therefore unfairly fail to qualify.
In response, the association argued the concerns were ‘completely wrong’ because experienced team members are only required in the second stage, and young architects are free to compete in the first open around on their own.
Up to eight shortlisted teams will receive around £21,500 each to participate in the second stage. As well as Cook, judges include Greek architect Elias Zenghelis, and Ministry of Transport, Communications and Work permanent secretary Alecos Michaelides.
The winner will receive approximately £86,000, while there will also be a second place prize of £60,000 and third place prize of £34,000.
How to apply
The deadline for submissions is 1pm local time on 9 January
Elena Kyriakou Georgiou
Public Works Department
165 Strovolos Avenue
Tel: +357 22806715
Fax: +357 22498937
View the contract notice for more information
Ashmolean Museum case study: Q&A with Stuart Cade
The partner at Rick Mather Architects discusses lessons learned extending the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England
Rick Mather Architects
How did your Ashmolean Museum project create a high-quality venue for exhibiting archaeological collections?
Our design doubles the size of the Ashmolean allowing many unseen collections to be displayed for the first time. It gives space for mass displays and prominence for key artefacts. The design respects the existing Cockerell building and provided seamless connections from old to new. The final sequence of interlocked gallery spaces provide strong visual connections, distinct spaces, and legibility to visitors providing considered visual connections and juxtapositions between different galleries. It was for us important to relate the curatorial and spatial strategy in this way, tacitly conveying the extraordinary variety of the collection in time and culture, and we worked hard with museum staff to realise this.
Natural light is provided to all levels providing a high quality environment for visitors and allowing appropriate artefacts to be shown in controlled daylight. The extensive galleries are complemented with 21st-century museum conservation and study facilities, and at the top a visitor is rewarded with a rooftop restaurant and a view over Oxford!
What issues might be important when designing for a large collection that was unable to be fully shown before?
We would suggest the new Cyprus museum should be a coherent whole, where the old and the new are knitted considerately together to create a new space for the reading of the collection. How it may be read, and how the architecture will support this, will be resolved by close work between the architects, curators and wider museum to identify key collections and artefacts, and how they can best be displayed. Identification of a narrative can be extremely useful in this. A large collection needs to be presented in a structured way to be legible, and the architecture should support this. The design should also allow for variety in pacing, variety and for moments of rest for the visitor.
Key also will be a ‘loose fit’ approach, that allows for flexibility in the displays, and this can be aided by open storage, either within the galleries or dedicated study spaces. The design may leave room for both small and large scale rotation of objects and displays. The new museum should provide suitable display and storage environments, ensuring the comfort of the visitor and the safeguarding of artefacts, whilst minimising energy use in a challenging climate.
How would you approach designing a new archaeological museum for Nicosia?
We would work with the museum, curators and historians to provide a design that is bespoke for this unique collection and museum. Being immersed in the collection and the city is important to any project and feels particularly important in this case. Nicosia is a unique city and the museum and its collection represent a long history that is important to understand and celebrate as part of developing a design.
Our plan would be to balance a sensitive approach with the constructive challenging of previous thinking. The aim is to arrive at a design that meets clear objectives, but also creates surprise and delight for future visitors.