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

  • Blazing fireball lights up Arctic sky over finland

    Tech & Science CTV News
    COPENHAGEN -- A blazing fireball lit up the dark skies of Arctic Finland for five seconds, giving off what scientists said was "the glow of 100 full moons" and igniting hurried attempts to find the reported meteorite. Source
  • Apple pushes back release of HomePod speaker to 2018

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Apple said Friday it was delaying until early next year the release of its HomePod speaker set to compete with Amazon's Alexa-powered devices and Google Home as a smart home and music hub. The delay means Apple will miss the key holiday shopping season in the fast-growing segment of connected speakers. Source
  • Germany bans children's smart watches with listening app

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BERLIN -- German regulators have banned certain types of smartwatches marketed to children, saying the devices have been used to listen in on school classrooms and run afoul of Germany's surveillance restrictions. The Bundesnetzagentur, or Federal Network Agency, said in a statement issued Friday that watches that would allow parents to "listen unnoticed to a child's environment" constitute an unauthorized transmitting system. Source
  • Bonn climate talks end with progress despite U.S. stance

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BONN, Germany -- As the first glimmer of dawn appeared across the Rhine River, delegates stumbled out of an all-night negotiating session at this year's global climate talks, expressing satisfaction Saturday at the progress made toward creating a comprehensive rule book for fighting global warming. Source
  • Climate-hit nations say UN talks offer little help for soaring losses

    Tech & Science CBC News
    From Fiji to St. Lucia, small island nations have taken every opportunity to flag the growing risks of climate change to their land and people at UN talks in Bonn — but their cry for help has fallen on deaf ears, officials and experts said on Friday. Source
  • NASA packs 20 years of Earth's changing seasons into 2 1/2 minute visualization

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA captured 20 years of changing seasons in a striking new global map of the home planet. The data visualization, released this week, shows Earth's fluctuations as seen from space. Source
  • Climate talks wrap up with progress on Paris rulebook

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BONN, Germany -- Global talks on curbing climate change wrapped up Friday, with delegates and observers claiming progress on several key details of the 2015 Paris accord. The two-week negotiations focused on a range of issues including transparency, financial assistance for poor nations and how to keep raising countries' targets for cutting carbon emissions. Source
  • What are the best ways to shrink your carbon footprint?

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Emma Rohmann works hard to minimize her family's contribution to climate change. She and her husband Erich, who have two young children, have retrofitted their Toronto home to be more energy efficient. They've also cut way back on eating meat, driving and flying to reduce their carbon emissions. Source
  • Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving in to commercial forests

    Tech & Science CTV News
    EDMONTON - A massive and uncontrollable buildup of mountain pine beetles in Jasper National Park is starting to explode into commercially valuable forests along its boundaries. Foresters along the park's edge have seen a tenfold increase in beetle infestation in just months, and some scientists wonder if Parks Canada could have done more to control the invasion a few years ago. Source
  • Canada and U.K. form alliance to phase out coal to combat climate change

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Canada and the United Kingdom have enticed 18 other nations to adopt their mutual goal of weaning themselves off coal-fired power — but at least two provinces are trying to negotiate their way out of the federal government's own domestic plan. Source