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.


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Alberta suspends caribou protection plan, asks for assistance from Ottawa

    Tech & Science CTV News
    EDMONTON -- Alberta is suspending portions of its draft plan to protect threatened woodland caribou, saying more research needs to be done and that Ottawa needs to help out. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips told the house Monday that the province is acting on concerns about the economic impacts of the protection plan. Source
  • BlackBerry says new software bridge to Microsoft products will increase security

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BlackBerry Ltd. is launching a new way to enhance the security of commonly-used Microsoft Corp. cloud and mobility software in response to increased customer awareness of the need to protect sensitive information. The two companies jointly announced Monday that they've collaborated on a software bridge between Microsoft's suite of applications and BlackBerry's highly-secure operating environment for enterprises. Source
  • Uber halts self-driving test in Toronto after Arizona pedestrian death

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Uber said Monday it has paused its testing of autonomous cars, including in Toronto, after a pedestrian fatality overnight in Tempe, Ariz. A spokesperson for Uber Canada confirmed the company has halted tests in San Francisco, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Toronto. Source
  • Notorious Russian online troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The same Russian online troll farm that meddled in the U.S. presidential election has also taken swipes at Canadian targets, including the country's oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Evidence is embedded in data made publicly available through investigations in the United States, where congressional probes have been examining Russian information campaigns following the 2016 presidential election. Source
  • Cigar-shaped interstellar visitor likely came from 2-star system

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Our interstellar visitor last fall likely came from a two-star system. That's the latest from astronomers who were amazed by the mysterious cigar-shaped object, detected as it passed through our inner solar system. Source
  • 5G wireless telecommunication corridor slated for Ontario, Quebec

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The governments of Canada, Ontario and Quebec are partnering with some of the world's digital heavyweights to usher in the next generation of wireless technology. A $400-million, public-private investment will create a 5G wireless corridor through Canada's two largest provinces, which will support the growing network of physical devices, vehicles and other objects that are increasingly communicating directly with each other. Source
  • Robots break new ground in construction industry

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- As a teenager working for his dad's construction business, Noah Ready-Campbell dreamed that robots could take over the dirty, tedious parts of his job, such as digging and levelling soil for building projects. Source
  • Century-old shipwreck found in Lake Erie, 8 died in sinking

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOLEDO, Ohio -- Shipwreck hunters say they've discovered the remains of a steamer that sank in Lake Erie over a century ago and left eight people dead. The National Museum of the Great Lakes says the wreck is several miles off the Ohio shore near Lorain, about 48 kilometres west of Cleveland. Source
  • Alberta First Nation fears for bison herd if mega oilsands mine opens

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Dene elder Roy Ladouceur's voice grows quiet as his eyes settle on a cellphone photo of a bison slaughtered by poachers. The animal from the Ronald Lake herd, which grazes in the boreal forest between Fort McMurray and the northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan, has been decapitated, its body left to waste away in blood-splattered snow. Source
  • Latin America's 'magic tree' slowly coming back to life

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The guaimaro, a highly prized tree bearing nutritious fruit, once abundant throughout South America, is slowly being coaxed back from near extinction in Colombia. Widely adaptable, the tree is resistant to drought -- though not, sadly, to man. Source