The New Cyprus Museum / Archaeological Museum and Botanical Park
Nicosia, Cyprus

Antiquities are exotic and curious. The proposed New Cyprus Museum avoids showcasing them as found objects. It performs a place of curiosities in juxtaposing relations, combining exhibition spaces and a Botanical park of the rare and endangered endemic flora of Cyprus. The entire site is treated as a single environment to equally host visitors, staff, researchers, trees, flowers, and passengers that are simultaneously omnipresent, following the example of the very first Museum of Alexandria that combined collections, library, botanical gardens and a zoo for observation. The Museum performs a City – Cabinet of curiosities within the city of Nicosia.

Geometric Strategy / Program: City – Cabinet of Curiosities. The building is created from a process of subtractions of large masses from a triangular solid (30 meters high and covering the buildable area of the site), responding to the neighboring environment.

a. Six spherical voids formulate the six plazas that receive people from all possible directions connecting the site with the adjacent park, the river, the public buildings and the city.

b. The ground level is further cut, so as uninterrupted circulation from one plaza to the rest, becomes possible. In the meantime, three buildings occur and are given equal importance: Museum Lobby, Laboratories and Library.

c. The first level is entirely removed to allow the flow of air and light as well as the intrusion of the Botanical Park inside the core of the building.

d. The second and the third floors are treated as a single volume with double height, to be further cut into a zig-zag solid for the purpose of providing the offices of the Museum staff and of the Administration of Antiquities with maximum view toward the intrusive Botanical Park. The people who work at the Museum actually habituate a hovering 3 dimensional cavity–park.

e. The fourth floor hosts the Archaeological Collections, while the terrace hosts the collections of endemic flowers. The existing historical building is preserved to host a new Botanical Museum and Research.

f. Another eight rectangular solids are being subtracted from all floors to create bright atriums, and further to this, to function as ‘studiolo’ of flora, equally visible from all levels.

Concept for the Permant Exhibitions: Centralized & Decentralized, Formal & Informal 'Galleria of Rotundas'. The exhibition space is divided by three.

a. General Layout: centralized & de-centralized. The central long space exhibits three glass spheres, placed between two zig-zag partitions, performing a ‘Galleria of Rotundas’: Unlike the centralized focus of the Uffizi Gallery, the galleria of the Cyprus Museum is intentionally centralized & decentralized at once. While the central spherical void allows the view of its entire depth, it blocks physical movement and any kind of monumentality. Unlike Durant’s rotunda that functions as a reception hall that essentially prepares the visitor with owe before entering the collection rooms, the spheres of the ‘galleria’ are impassable. They perform the role of exhibits, while showing the direction to other exhibits.

b. Movement: Formal & informal. Formal navigation of the collections is satisfied, given that the chronological sequence of different eras is easily recognizable and followed on a circular path. Yet, invisible scripts that break the canon of didactic sequence create connections between diverse collections, enhancing exploration and the discovery of unexpected routes. Examples of such scripts are: the visual connection of major exhibits of different eras, the contrasting location of certain exhibits against the view of the city or the view of the flora or the spheres of the ‘galleria’ or hidden rooms inside the thick parametric wall.

  • Client: Republic of Cyprus, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works
  • Program: Archaeological Museum, Laboratories, Conference Hall, Administration, Storage, Landscaping
  • Area: 29.000 sq m
  • Status: International Competition
  • Architect: Eleni Papanastasiou
  • Year: 2017

  • Exhibited in ‘The International Architectural Competition for the New Cyprus Museum’, held at Filoxenia Conference Centre, ‘Xenon Kitieus’ Hall, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2017