Founded in 1824, Museo Egizio is the oldest museum of ancient Egyptian culture, housed in Collegio dei Nobili in Turin, Italy. Following several renovations and alterations in its design, the museum space subconsciously isolated itself from the city, standing as a separate entity, deprived of much public interaction. Winning the architecture competition to transform Museo Egizio, OMA/ David Gianotten, and Andreas Karavanas have envisioned a new identity for the museum under Museo Egizio 2024.
The proposed design for the museum architecture enhances the space by introducing interactive public spaces, creating a breathable fabric through the museum's existing structure. The new programs connect the museum space to other public spaces in the city, while maintaining the ancient structures' sanctity. The new fabric created would provide a unique identity to the museum as a space in connection with the city and an independent entity rich with culture.
Playing with scales and proportions, the new programs introduced in the project reassemble the museum's public spaces into six urban rooms. Each room has a distinct scale, function, and quality. A central spine connects these six urban rooms to both entrances with the openings provided on the facade design of Via Duse, intending to invite people to the various public activities inside. The primary striking feature of the museum design is the Piazza Egizia, the largest urban room and a connecting plaza between the museum and the city. To follow a visual continuity among the different urban rooms, the architects proposed a continuous flooring pattern, inspired by the museum’s artefact.
"Museo Egizio, with an open courtyard, is historically a main civic space in Turin. Our team believes that it is vital to restore the public nature of the museum and integrate it back with Turin’s network of public spaces. By reorganising the current museum’s public areas, we have created the Piazza Egizia, which is a place for all kinds of activities shared between Museo Egizio and the city," shares David Gianotten, managing partner and architect, OMA.
The Piazza Egizia, within the museum, is a multi-level structure with a courtyard design housing interactive activity spaces, functioning as the main site to showcase the museum’s history and culture. It showcases the oldest traces from the museum and the history of architectural renovation and interventions over time. At the ground level, multiple openings, which were once shut, have been restored, opening access to the city again. At the first level, two public programs collaborate to make the space lively again—this level consists of an Egyptian garden and the event and learning space—also uncovering the Collegeio dei Nobili’s original facade, which was masked away in the 2010 renovation. An exciting play of light and shadow occurs due to the interaction of the two levels, where the ground openings of the ground floor fall under the garden and learning space. This allows natural light to enter the area, enhancing the recreation of both open spaces.
The Piazza Igizia holds a transparent canopy above, supported by extensions to existing columns, carefully following the material rhythm. The structural grid is aluminium clad, which acts as a space for rainwater collection, ventilation, and lighting provisions. This caters to principles of sustainable design integrated into an old structure. Piazza Igizia stands as an intervention in lieu of the city's other public plazas—the Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Carignano. The Piazza Igizia as well as other urban rooms remain open to all people with or without tickets, displaying the museum’s artefacts, to start a conversation between the space and its visitors. The urban rooms allow its consumers to either stay around for leisure, immerse themselves in the museum's cultures and surroundings, or explore other parts of the city.
The project infuses new programs into the existing grid of the museum, carefully creating a fluid and interactive fabric by opening up spaces, carving new voids into the structure allowing it to blend in and invite people from across the city. These interventions will blur the division of the museum as a separate entity to what will now stand as an interplay of spaces, enabling the city's people to view, experience or explore new possibilities.
“We have conceptualised the Piazza Egizia as a palimpsest that reveals the different layers of the museum’s history. This approach restores coherence to the architecture and lends the museum a lucid identity, while ensuring that the institution’s new needs are fulfilled,” states Andreas Karavanas, project architect, OMA. The competition to transform Museo Egizio also witnessed proposals from many renowned architects including Kengo Kuma and Associates, Pininfarina Architecture, Carlo Ratti Associati, and Snøhetta.
(Text by Aaryaa Joshi, intern at STIRworld)
What do you think?