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

  • New research suggests winds of change blow even for black holes

    Tech & Science CTV News
    EDMONTON -- The winds of change blow, even around a black hole. New Canadian-led research has peered into the strange world of black holes to discover they're girded by electromagnetic winds that not only influence how the super-dense interstellar bodies gobble up anything that gets too close but also how they affect vast areas of space around them. Source
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook visits Canada for the first time

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Apple chief executive Tim Cook is visiting Canada for the first time since taking the reins at the tech giant, stopping in for an unannounced appearance with Toronto students to promote the company's initiative to focus on coding education. Source
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook makes 1st visit to Canada, visits Toronto students

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO - Apple chief executive Tim Cook is visiting Canada for the first time, stopping in for an unannounced appearance with Toronto students to promote the company's initiative to focus on coding education. Cook, who surprised a class of children taking coding lessons at Apple's Eaton Centre location, says he could feel the creativity and diversity Canada has to offer as soon as he stepped off the plane. Source
  • Tim Cook makes 1st visit to Canada as Apple CEO, visits Toronto students

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- Apple Inc.'s Tim Cook visited Canada for the first time as CEO Monday, surprising students at a downtown Toronto Apple store to highlight the importance of learning to code, and dropping in on a group of developers to thank them for their contributions to the tech giant's app store. Source
  • New 508-million-year-old bristle worm found in B.C.

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO - A new fossil species of bristle worm has been found at the 508-million-year-old Marble Canyon site in B.C.'s Kootenay National Park. The worm found at the Burgess Shale site is helping scientists better understand analids, which include present-day leeches and earthworms. Source
  • New 508-million-year-old fossil found at B.C.'s Burgess Shale

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- A new fossil species of bristle worm has been found at the 508-million-year-old Marble Canyon site in B.C.'s Kootenay National Park. The worm, found by researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto, is called Kootenayscolex barbarensis. Source
  • More than 500 fossils of new ancient worm species found in B.C.

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Roughly 508 million years ago, this bristly worm roamed the waters of what is now British Columbia. Now, the newly identified species of ancient worm is helping researchers unravel an ancient mystery. Meet Kootenayscolex barbarensis, a new species of bristle worm. Source
  • Tesla to install Atlantic Canada 'supercharger' stations for its vehicles

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Tesla Inc. is building fast-charging stations for its electric vehicles in Atlantic Canada, opening up the East Coast to road trippers with the California automaker's high-end plug-in cars. The company has plans to set up dozens of new "supercharger" stations across Canada, including seven in the Maritimes — five in New Brunswick and two in Nova Scotia — by the end of 2018. Source
  • Liberals spending $50M to help students K-12 code

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Liberal government is following up on a 2017 budget promise to spend $50 million to help children learn to code as soon as they start school. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced the government's new CanCode program, which hopes to train students from kindergarten to Grade 12 on coding and other digital skills, during a stop at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. Source
  • Liberals spending $50M to teach K-12 students and their teachers coding

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Liberal government is following up on a 2017 budget promise to spend $50 million to help children learn to code as soon as they start school. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced the government's new CanCode program, which hopes to train students from kindergarten to Grade 12 on coding and other digital skills, during a stop at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. Source