Casanova+Hernandez architects | A095_Museum for Underwater Antiquities


A095_Museum for Underwater Antiquities

Piraeus, Greece

The proposal for the Museum of Underwater Antiquities and the regeneration of the Piraeus Port Authority Coastal Zone seeks to characterize the cultural coast and the new Museum with a specific and unique contemporary identity, integrating the port character of the place and putting special attention in the smooth articulation between the different scales and aspects involved in the project: the city, the master plan, the landscape design, the open spaces around the museum and the design of the interior of the building.

The Greek Sea with its multiple aspects is the inspiration element in charge of giving unity and identity to the different parts of the design: from the morphological structure of the landscape design till the sensory experience in the interior of the Museum.

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Museum spatial and functional organization

The proposal of renovation of the existing cereal stock house into the Museum of Underwater Antiquities is based on the careful balance between the preservation of the port character of the existing structure and the careful transformation of some parts of the building to adequate the new required functions generating, all together, a new urban icon capable of representing the cultural institution of the museum and becoming a landmark of the Cultural Coast.

To reach the equilibrium between preservation and renovation, the functional distribution, circulations, structural principles and materialization of the Museum project have been designed based on the analysis of the current state and future possibilities of the existing building.

The functional program required for the Museum is completely integrated into the structure of the existing building in order to preserve its main volume, minimizing the visual impact of the new intervention and reducing possible extra costs.

The functional distribution of the program of the Museum follows the clear vertical division of the existing building in three main parts piled on top of each other, which are characterized by very different structural and spatial properties:

Spatial location of six thematic museological axes in the cell structure

All the rooms of each museological axis are located at the same level to facilitate a comfortable visit for handicapped people or people with mobility problems. Only the axis 6, which has been designed as a discovery route across the hidden places of the building, guides the visitor through three levels of the building, but always connecting them with escalators and lifts to provide access to all kind of public.

A short visit to the museum concentrated on visiting only the three main axes will drastically reduce the vertical circulations inside the museum and will make the short visit very efficient.
The separated access to each axis gives as well the possibility to the visitors to plan their own personalized visit depending on their thematic interest and time available.

Sustainability principles

Reusing the existing and minimizing the ecological impact

The main concept of the project is based on maximizing the reuse of the existing structure, and minimizing the impact of its transformation by avoiding the addition of new constructions. The intention is to preserve the identity to the building, but as well to develop a sustainable project.

Integral thermal protection

The strong reinforcement of the thermal isolation during the renovation of the façades of the building will guarantee the adequate temperature inside the building in winter, saving energy in heating and will keep as well the building fresh during the summer, avoiding the thermal radiation from the exterior walls heated by the sunlight.

Sunlight protection + natural ventilation

All the large glazed parts of the building are protected against the direct contact of the sunlight. Aluminium louvers located at the exterior part of the façade and ceiling protect the top glazed volume. The setback glazed façade located on ground floor at the south, east and west sides of the building, is naturally protected by the shadow created by the existing ceiling and columns.

Optimal use of natural and artificial light

Working and visitor areas are located in the parts of the building where they can profit from the views over the exterior and the abundant natural light to maximize the energy savings and to create an optimal comfort zone in the interior of the building.
Artificial lighting will be adjusted to the minimum required values promoting the extensive use of light sensors.

Minimizing additions + recycling + local materials

It is proposed to minimize the addition of false ceilings or of the extra finishing of walls at the interior of the building. When additions are required the use of recycled materials or local materials such as local stone will relate better the building with the identity of the place and will help to reduce the CO2 emissions generated by the far transportation of materials.

Furnish instead of re-building

The interior renovation of the building is based on two phases: the restoration of the building recovering its original structural state and the addition, as much as possible, of new required functions such as information desk, toilets, bars and kitchens as “independent furniture and cabins”, which are not in contact with walls and columns and have integrated their own specific installations. These light additions will contrast in scale and materialization with the existing, reinforcing the industrial character of the existing silo, reducing the building cost and providing a flexible system that will allow an efficient building maintenance and an easy functional transformation in the future.

Landscape as natural climate controller

The proposed landscape that surrounds the building combines water layers with vegetation and natural materials to create a microclimate around the building that will reduce the air temperature in summer by combining the cooling effect of the water with the natural shadows.

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Piraeus Port Authority and Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Reuse, Industrial Area, Cereal's Silo, Museum for Underwater Antiquities
10.700 m2
14.260 m2