Piraeus, Greece 2012
Architect: Studio Touraine, in collaboration with Series Architects.
Competition Sponsors: Piraeus Port Authority, and Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Program: Redesign of existing silo and its surrounding open space into a museum.
Structural Consultant: ARUP
When considering the museum, we realized that effort to integrate the systems required to support the exhibition space would be the same whether placed within or adjacent to the existing skin. We came to the conclusion that placing the program on top of the original building would be less invasive to the existing structure and more beneficial to the exhibition design. The original building retains the character of its industrial context, an integral part of port’s long history, while also avoiding the waste demanded by the scrapping and rebuilding of new developments. In doing so, the most significant part of the building – the silos – are kept open, and the structure is given the shining crown it needs to gain even more architectural interest. The museum artifacts, rather than being crammed into existing concrete structure, are glorified within an equally precious new container that allows for the preservation of both the treasures of the exhibition and the unique spaces found within the stock house. The interior is in turn left for the creation of a larger exhibition space that anchors the exhibition trajectory and showcases the original function of the building.
The museum’s exterior becomes clearly expressive of its content, a result of the combination of new and old elements within the greater composition of the building. A reflection of the mythological allure of the artifacts inside, the exhibition program is excised and displaced to the building’s roof, a sculptural lightweight corona perched shining above the rough industrial body of the museum. A large void hollowed out from the original structure allows views to the interior, transforming it visually while providing a glimpse of what might be happening inside. A sense of mystery and surprise is maintained even in the interior, as visitors navigating between forests of columns, grand atriums, winding exhibition halls, and exterior observation areas.