French architect designs undersea museum for ruins of Alexandria

Known for his underwater constructions, French architect Jacques Rougerie has designed an undersea museum for the city of Alexandria in Egypt.

See Full Article

The project, first discussed back in 1996 had been shelved in 2011 following the Arab Spring, but Egyptian authorities recently announced that the subaquatic showcase is back on the agenda. Here, Jacques Rougerie reminds us what his spectacular project is all about.

Why did you submit plans for this project?

It's a fascinating assignment. The museum is located in the mythical bay of Alexandria, the resting place of the remains of Cleopatra's palace and the royal port of the galleys.

How did you choose to structure the museum?

The exterior part features a large open-air stone slab, a promenade with statues of the Pharaoh and the queen, as well as a selection of sphinxes brought up from the bay by Franck Goddio (the French underwater archeologist). The exhibition rooms are located underneath, on two levels. After that, there's a corridor that leads to Cleopatra's palace and the royal port of the galleys. This will be used to exhibit statues found on-site in glass tubes filled with water. When you arrive in the large underwater room, you'll see a certain number of ruins and statues in their genuine locations.

A second part of the museum looks like sails in the water. Why did you add that?

It is a symbolic creation inspired by the bay of Alexandria and its great lighthouse, which was a fabled place in global culture, shining its light out in all four cardinal directions. This is the theme I used, embodied in four felucca sails (a felucca is small traditional sailboat). The sails are made from frosted glass and are bathed in light.

What are the challenges of building a museum in this location?

First of all, the pollution. Water is filtered to remove pollution from the area, but not all of the bay is filtered, as that would be too expensive. There needs to be sufficient visibility through the water while still keeping an air of mystery around the site.

Next, great care has to be taken around the ruins. Everything that's found in a zone where we will be building for the project needs to be meticulously identified and listed.

The second part, with the four felucca sails, will be built like a boat in a dry dock, where incredible ocean liners are made. The structure will then be transported on trailers to the bay of Alexandria.

Why keep the statues in the water rather than exhibit them in a traditional manner?

Nothing can replace reality. Coming to such a legendary place -- right to the foot of Cleopatra's palace -- is more moving than simply rebuilding the palace elsewhere. It's a question of perception. Being in the real, authentic place has a much stronger impact than trying to imagine it.

Which is your favorite piece among the artifacts on show?

The black goddess. She is an extraordinary beauty, of a kind I have never seen before. I have never seen such sensually draped robes on a statue.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Google to stop scanning Gmail for ad targeting

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Google said Friday it would stop scanning the contents of Gmail users' inboxes for ad targeting, moving to end a practice that has fueled privacy concerns since the free email service was launched. A Google statement said Gmail users would still see "personalized" ads and marketing messages but these would be based on other data, which may include search queries or browsing habits. Source
  • It's worth the drive to totality: perspectives from an eclipse chaser: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    August 21st is going to be an insane day across the United States as millions of people gather along a thin line that stretches from coast to coast to watch the moon pass directly in front of the sun in a total solar eclipse. Source
  • Dutch invent phone app to stop kids texting on bikes

    Tech & Science CTV News
    In the bike-mad Netherlands, the national phone company is developing a smart way to stop kids texting while cycling -- a growing cause of teenage accidents. A new app from phone company KPN will block internet and phone signals to a cyclist's smartphone while they are in the saddle. Source
  • Facebook launches plan to combat online extremism

    Tech & Science CTV News
    U.S. social media giant Facebook launched a campaign in Britain on Friday to counter the spread of online extremism following warnings from Prime Minister Theresa May after four terror attacks in three months. Facebook said it would seek to educate charities and other organisations on how to fight hate speech, in the wake of recent terror attacks in Belgium, Britain and France. Source
  • Live Asian carp discovered near Lake Michigan

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- A live Asian carp has been discovered in a Chicago waterway about nine miles from Lake Michigan -- well beyond an electric barrier network designed to prevent the invasive fish that have infested the Mississippi River system from reaching the Great Lakes, officials said Friday. Source
  • B.C. woman can file class-action lawsuit against Facebook: Supreme Court

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says a woman who wants to sue Facebook over its use of “sponsored stories” can pursue her case in British Columbia. Deborah Douez wants to file a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant over a now-defunct advertising format, which allegedly used her name and profile photo in ads endorsing a company for which she had clicked the “Like” button. Source
  • Is Tesla getting into the streaming music business?

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Electric carmaker Tesla said Thursday it was considering ways to enter music streaming amid a report it may launch a unique new service. The high-end carmaker, which already has a tie-up with streaming leader Spotify in some international markets, said it was aiming at ways to please drivers. Source
  • Solar eclipse in August raising worries about Ontario's power grid

    Tech & Science CTV News
    An astronomical delight this summer is going to pose a terrestrial problem. Operators of Ontario’s power grid are bracing for a sharp drop in electricity generated by solar panels during a summer solar eclipse coming Aug. Source
  • Total solar eclipse casts spotlight on rural Oregon town

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MADRAS, Ore. -- Just before sunrise, there's typically nothing atop Round Butte but the whistle of the wind and a panoramic view of Oregon's second-highest peak glowing pink in the faint light. But on Aug. Source
  • Japan zoo releases gender of star panda

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO - The baby panda, who has become an overnight celebrity in Japan, is a girl. Tokyo's Ueno Zoo said Friday the panda, born June 12, was ruled a female by examining experts. The still nameless cub has been doing well, drinking mother ShinShin's milk. Source