The Great Egyptian Museum, Cairo
International Competition, 2002    (Colab. Prof. Renate Oelhaf, Dr. Mike Schlaich)

The Great Egyptian Museum is intended to read as a clear geometric form. The building consists of three long rectilinear volumes, placed according to the coordinate system of the x, y, z axes. The geometry of the building refers to the origin of Egyptian culture and science, as the measurement system was a profound element of them.

The building establishes a complex three-part relationship to gravity, avoiding conflict or resemblance to the sublime monolithic weight of the pyramids: the lower volume which runs parallel to the contour lines of the site is directly related to the ground and partially dug into it. The upper volume is raised above the ground in a perpendicular direction to the contour lines and appears to float above the lower volume. The vertical volume, the tower, completes the set of relations of this Cartesian system. The natural ground on the site, beyond the footprint of the lower volume, is left untouched.

The three volumes of the museum correspond to different functional entities. The lower volume contains the main lobby, all supporting departments and facilities of the new museum, as well as temporary and special exhibition galleries. The volume which is raised above the ground contains the permanent exhibition galleries, while the tower connects all levels of the museum as the main vertical circulation element.

The museum’s focus on understanding the Egyptian civilization through horizontal and vertical routes in time is supported by the prospect of reflecting on the topography that gave birth to it. A viewing point 140m above ground level, precisely aligned with the Cheops Pyramid, offers an unobstructed view of the Nile valley to the south, up to the pyramids of Abu Sir, Saqqara and Dahschur.