The proposal for the National Archaeological Museum is to highlight the significance of science in archaeology, the great value of its collections, and the fundamental role and nature of the museum in our time today and in the future.
Tracing back the memory of the museum, words in acts of burying, concealing, revealing start to emerge.
They represent critical transitional moments in forming the museum into what it is today and leading to the vision of what it would desire to be in the future. Our proposal for the museum is not to create an iconic architectural object or a mass in a formalistic gesture, but to create a journey of spatial, sensorial experiences that would convey the narratives and its profound history.
Given the extension of the museum being underground, our architectural design approach would naturally be humble and discreet but distinctive. Architectural built form is to be diminished. It is generated by a simple, subtle gesture of lifting the earth, an act of “UNEARTHING”, symbolic of revealing buried artifacts and treasure troves, in order to unlock encapsulated time and memory. The slit-like opening by lifting the earth would evoke curiosity and draw visitors into the deep spacious underground realm as if one would be discovering, submerging, maneuvering among the artifacts in their buried state. The lifted earth to the full extent of the museum site would hold the lush greenery as if the garden would be floating gently, subtly above the busy urban boulevard.
The Museum Garden is planned at the elevation of the existing building ground floor entry to ensure smooth accessibility. The garden on the lifted plane extends horizontally at the same level, while 2 side streets slope down towards the large boulevard. This simple leveling strategy naturally creates the slit, the opening between the roof slab and the access level of the boulevard. The height of the roof is kept as low as possible from the street level so as to remain humble and not far from human scale.
The slit-like opening becomes the new entrance of the NAM that offers a unique sense of approach, being drawn to the beginning of the underground exhibition journey. The spatial experience through the museum journey would be sensorial, embraced by earthy, warm, tactile texture of the envelope. A gradient of light would wash the way from outdoors all through the subterranean obscurity. The natural light ingresses from the perimeter slit-like clerestory would be carefully controlled and curated to accentuate the exquisite quality of artifacts.