Project: Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt
Sara Pepitone -- Interior Design, 12/26/2012 12:00:00 AM
Project: Grand Egyptian Museum|
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Architects: Heneghan Peng
Architects; RMC; Arup
Site to Open: 2013
Square Feet: 1 million
Budget: $500 million
museums, and will include a library, auditorium, and multimedia facilities.
“The scale is daunting because big buildings are complex,” says Roisin Heneghan of Heneghan Peng Architects. The Dublin-based firm beat
out 1,557 proposals to win the bid in 2003. Heneghan says scale is also exciting, but requires significant organization: “Lots of managers and systems!”
The result of all this organization will be a 1-million-square-foot building partially sunken into the desert, with a roof that echoes the neighboring pyramids; two of the structure's parallel walls are in direct alignment with the landmark forms.
Size was not the museum's only challenge. The surrounding desert - of course - results in heaps of sand. So retaining walls are necessary throughout. The biggest, called the Menjaurus Wall, will be 1,640 feet wide and, in places, will reach a height of 115 feet.
“It’s more like a dam than a retaining wall,” says Heneghan. "The movement of wind and sand in these parts is unfathomable to much of the rest of the world."
Another aesthetic and structural element is the sloping, translucent, onyx façade built against the main building at mid height and roof level. Its shape and scale is reminiscent of the pyramids themselves, while being thoroughly modern. At GEM, ancient and futuristic merge impressively.
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