New Acropolis Museum

Michael Photiadis

Michael Photiadis & Associate Architects

New Acropolis Museum

15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, Athens 11742

Athens, Greece
American Institute of Architects, Honor Award winner

The New Acropolis Museum


In 2011 the AIA Institute gave the Honor Award for Architecture to the New Acropolis Museum, designed by Bernard Tschumi Architects with Michael Photiadis Associate Architects. It is located on a site with unique challenges at 300m SE of the pedestrian link to the Acropolis Rock and the Parthenon. The Museum stands between the 19th c. listed and incorporated building, the city's subway line and the safeguarded ancient housing excavations promenade.
The AIA Jury comments included:
•    The building's plan fits the site while the archeological elements are not an overstatement competing with the Acropolis.
•    Not a light building, but very contextual and powerfully respectful of the urban fabric of Athens while doing a dance around the ruins.
•    The sculpture from the old museum is much more dramatic than in the old setting with the screen walls and slab edges remaining contextual to the neighborhood and city.

For the New Acropolis Museum's fourth International competition our team received the first award and commission in September 2001. In the Museum's previous International competition of 1990 I had already taken part. Among three prospective sites at a 5' distance from the Acropolis, I had chosen that of the Koile, which offered certain credits. My solution was awarded but not its site. The present built location belongs to the final executed brief.

The decision for the construction of the Acropolis Museum was officially announced by the State in 1976, to protect its sculpture from the 20th century's urban pollution. There were two initial National Architectural Competitions where first prizes were withheld. The third Competition, an International
one of 1990, had 440 entries. Ten years after the Italian team's award (Nicoletti Passarelli), it was annulled to safeguard the immediate environment. The fourth International Competition awarded the collaborative concept for the participating design architects Tschumi and Photiadis. The commissioned museum dictated a design solution facing the Acropolis Monument with a choice of restricted materials within protective glazing, structural concrete, stainless steel and marble floor cladding. It achieved an interplay between the New contemporary shell for the Acropolis antiquities, transparent over the on-site excavations of ancient neighborhoods, integrated within the city's urban environment.

The collaboration of two study groups from such distant geographic points, New York in the U.S. and Athens, Greece, with a seven hour time difference, did not deter but favored the result through an uninterrupted, hi-tech digital connection, "hellip;allowing one team to sleep, while the other continued workinghellip;". This resulted in a production turnout that at some design stages practically doubled the tight presentation schedule.

It should be reminded that Greece has demanded the return of only the Procession frieze which was a part of "the Parthenon's bearing flesh". The juxtaposition of original pieces (45%) with plaster copies (55%) call for those marble frieze's return from the British Museum.

Structural innovative solutions are: the special foundations and the building's earthquake insulation; the concealed fire partitions; the glass paving allowing views of the excavations; the vertical glazing permitting natural or filtered light; the Parthenon Gallery's insulation with manual or sensor controlled natural or artificial lighting (including thermal loads); protection of the project's acoustics; the auxiliary spaces interior design; the outdoor landscaping environment.


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