The project for the New Cyprus Museum offers the unique opportunity to address the crisis of the European city from the vantage point of its frontier. The ancient and rich civilization of Cyprus opposes the deep dimension of history to the frantic research of novelty and the lateral gaze of the periphery to the normative order of the center. Turning on its head the idea of Mediterranean as an incomplete, delayed, or failed form of development, the project assumes the resistance to modernization, to the imposition of a pre-established foreign order, as the opportunity for a radical design strategy.
Discarding the idea of the Museum as a monument and a repository of a frozen archeological knowledge, the project interprets the program as an exemplary portion of the city; a place for knowledge exchange, preservation and research, which absorbs and organizes the chaotic tension of urban life with the ambition to construct and test a different idea of Modernity.
Reversing the idea of clearing, the proposal departs from the repopulation of the site with a dense forest of Mediterranean trees as an act of foundation which responds to the landscape vocation of the Pediaios river basin. Within a sea of threes an archipelago of buildings is arranged in a seemingly disorganized fashion, each one with its specific program, materiality, orientation and form. At the same time each element is the nexus of a system of ground and underground accesses, paths and connections that blends the city, the museum and the park in one open system of leisure and knowledge production.
The project chooses archetypical forms such as the square, the tower, the ring, the slab and the ziggurat, which give to the organization and distribution of specific programs a material and representational power. The park itself is an open space offered to the city and its inhabitants but at the same time it operates as connective tissue that allows the complex machine of the Museum to function. The tension between the rational and the symbolic dimension of the city assumes an architectural form that is liberated both from the pretense of a universal order and from the mere celebration of chaos. As such the design strategy responds to the ambitious challenge of turning the incredibly rich historical legacy of Cyprus into a chance of reinvent Modernity.