LIGHT ON THE NEW ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

The new Acropolis Museum, designed by architects Bernard Tschumi and Michalis Fotiadis, has come into the limelight. The winning design for the project represents the triumph of common sense. A plain, elegant, non-monumental building, it is far removed from the architecture of excess and from any tendency to exhibitionism or narcissism.

The new museum makes great use of natural light, which enhances the effect of the building as it shines in through the roof and reaches down to the lowest level. Light is the motive force of this building, which is positioned so discreetly at the foot of the Acropolis.

"The exhibits were made to be in the Attic light, and in the new museum they will continue to be in the Attic light," Fotiades told Kathimerini. This may be the element that shifted the balance in favour of the Tschumi-Fotiadis study.

In contrast to the depressing exhibition halls at the British Museum where the Parthenon Marbles are on display, the new museum has transparent walls of different types of glass, some of which is polarized. But this is nothing at all like a glass office block tower. Here there is surgical use of a material that absorbs light and reflects it onto vertical and horizontal surfaces. Glass shutters and skylights will create an explosion of light - Attic light. The entrance is on Dionysiou Aeropagitou. Visitors will follow a pathway through the excavations, receiving a powerful impression of walking through a city that has had unceasing life ever since the Neolithic era. The entrance, next to the store, will lead to the central section. Antiquities will be on display at one end, the Erectheion will be in the center and at the other end, toward the Acropolis, are a refreshment area and a restaurant.

Upstairs, the atrium will be devoted to the Parthenon marbles. The frieze will be put back into place, and natural light will shine in from above and down onto the central hail where the Caryatids are.

Fotiadis says the museum itself does not appear to take up space. "It's a building you discover gradually," he explains. "Perhaps the only incursion it makes into the area is with the atrium at the top." An airy, transparent building that is both Attic and international seems to respond to the riddle set by the competition.

Nikos Vatopoulos
Reproduced from Kathemerini
Thursday, September 13, 2001