Grand Musée de l’Afrique / UNStudio

  • Architect:UNStudio
  • Location:Algiers, Algeria
  • Date:2013
  • Status:Competition design submission (it will not be built).
  • Area:Building surface - 23.772 m2
. Building site - 15.900 m2. Building area - 75.000m2 total field
  • Client:ARPC – Agence Nationale de Gestion des Realisations des Grands Projects de la Culture.
  • Project Team:Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Gerard Loozekoot with Wesley Lanckriet and Filippo Lodi, Harlen Miller, Jan Kokol, Wendy van der Knijff, Nemanja Kordić, Jan Rehders, Chenqi Jia, Patrik Noome, Jeroen den Hertog, Iain Jamieson.
  • Others:Renderings by Bloomimages.

Grand Musée de l’Afrique

Grand Musée de l’Afrique – Description of UNStudio.

UNStudio’s design for the Grand Musée de l’Afrique has been designed as an amalgamation of history, geography, ecology, culture and presents itself as a sensitive, context-conscious modernising impulse. The Grand Musée de l’Afrique of Alger is designed to bring Algeria and Africa a manifestation of its cultural and natural richness. Its architecture is a medium to generate a ‘trait d’union’ between African cultures, while blending into Algeria’s city fabric.

The design of the Grand Musée de l’Afrique reflects the sunsets of Africa, from its mountains, and its spectacular landscapes.  A landscape is common to all countries and does not have any political or language border. In UNStudio’s vision the Grand Musée de l’Afrique is a landscape in and of itself and not an object on a pedestal. The Grand Musée de l’Afrique is borderless and organic, a living social and cultural building.

© Bloomimages. Courtesy of UNStudio.

A language of aggregation is deployed in the design as an organisational system resulting in a museum that highlights the diversity and multiplicity of the African continent. The varied nature of the collection led to a concept for a museum that reflects the idea of variety and diversification, where the programme aggregates in a range of flexible scenarios by alternating exhibition and performance spaces. The logic of programme distribution within the museum sets itself apart from the more classical notion of museum programme distribution, which is more typically defined by a corridor of spaces with a defined start and end point. By intertwining the narrative and the routing, diversifying the visitor experience into a mixed space with a loose start and a loose end, the Grand Musée de l’Afrique presents a different museum experience.

The proposed logic of aggregation offers a range of flexible solutions and a diversification of sizes that allow for increased curatorial flexibility. The classical notion of the linear becomes instead one of the ambulatory. Furthermore the notion of the in-between space, the corridor, is transformed into that of a new hybrid space where art, performance or mediation could be introduced, as well as offering varying degrees of privacy, possible social encounters, and space for pause.

© Bloomimages. Courtesy of UNStudio.

At the urban scale the design extends the livability of the new master plan by prolonging the promenade to the site. An urban strategy of site activation is deployed via small commercial pavilions located in a number of amenities scattered throughout the site, which in turn assure a smaller distance range and an attractive zone for pedestrians. A new pier is introduced to further extend this logic and ensures a stronger vitality, and viability by sea. The garden unveils several types of African ecologies, where a route of 2km crosses several landscape ecologies and the various gardens will allow for art work to be placed outside in a landscape scenario. The intensification of urban activities promotes the site as an urban destination, a social and cultural meeting point.

© Bloomimages. Courtesy of UNStudio.

At the building scale the proposal presents numerous sustainable strategies, including using nearby sea water to cool or heat up the building, integrating a flexible ventilation system, low energy usage of the building, controlled day and artificial light in public and exhibition spaces and a structural scheme which takes into consideration the seismic activity in the area.

MORE CREDITS – Associate Architect: ATSP. Structural engineers: Bollinger&Grohmann. MEP engineers: SETEC. Museographer: Studio Adeline Rispal. Lighting design: LICHT KUNST LICHT AG. Museum programme: AP’Culture. Visualisations: Bloomimages, Germany.




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