The New Archaeological Museum of Sparta will be a symbol of Sparta’s rich history and a vibrant new cultural space for the city. The existing building’s industrial character – exposed concrete, monumental structural spans, large open spaces – will be retained, celebrated, and extended throughout the building – with exposed concrete roof vaults, expressed steel Vierendeel trusses, and a minimal and robust material palette. In addition, the NAMS will be more than just a space of display, but also a vibrant space of cultural production. The messiness of the workshop, the debate in the classroom, the logistics of the administration offices, the beautiful obsessiveness of the storage racks, and the clarity of the curated museum exhibitions will all be put on display. In this way the NAMS will be a new kind of industrial museum, a space that reveals the production of new knowledge.
The vaulted ceilings of the exhibition space will be the new representation of the museum, giving the institution a kind of soft iconicity that is both present visually on the exterior façade, and internally in the experience of the exhibition hall. The exposed concrete barrel vaults are simultaneously light, buoyant, solid, soaring, refined, classic, monumental, and elegant. The ceiling hovers above the landscape, rolling up and down, echoing the surrounding mountains visible on the horizon.
The proposal for the New Archaeological Museum of Sparta uses the underlying DNA of the Zenetos ChimoFIX factory building to generate the design of the new extension. The 2.5m x 6m plan grid of the structural concrete frame is used as both a formal and organizational principle, extended across the entire building and site. The site is generated and organized by three parallel concepts: 1) as an expansion of the Zenetos building grid into the landscape, 2) as a productive olive tree orchard and 3) as an active archaeological excavation site, where the methodologies of the archaeological dig are creatively conflated with the logics of recreational space.
The New Archaeological Museum of Sparta will not simply display beautifully curated exhibitions, but it will also be an active archaeological site, an educational forum, and a vibrant social hub. The full range of the museum content is put on display alongside the exhibition – with views down into the storage space from the lobby and from the gardens. The historic tower of the original Zenetos building, and the new arched roof of the NAMS building will assert a strong legible form on the horizon, creating a new landmark for the city of Sparta.