David Chipperfield Architects wins competition to design National Archaeological Museum in Athens extension

State of the Art

David Chipperfield Architects wins competition to design National Archaeological Museum in Athens extension

The new entrance at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. (©Filippo Bolognese)

A team led by David Chipperfield Architects Berlin has won the competition to modernize and extend the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, an institution with one of the world’s most extensive collections of prehistoric and ancient art.

Streetview of the new complex (©Filippo Bolognese)

David Chipperfield Architects riffs on, but tries not to compete with, Ludwig Lange and Ernst Ziller’s existing landmarked neoclassical building.

A central courtyard connects the old building and the new addition. (©Filippo Bolognese)

The firm’s intervention extends the plinth of the original structure to add 215,000 square feet (20,000 square meters) as well as a rooftop park.

Flowing exhibition space with diagonal views (©Filippo Bolognese)
Enclosed exhibition space (©Filippo Bolognese)

The addition will be the new home of the museum shop and restaurant, auditorium, ticketing area, and galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions. Passerbys will be able to see into the new areas thanks to a glass facade at the street-level main entrance.

The existing neoclassical building in the new park. (©Filippo Bolognese)
(©Filippo Bolognese)
Spaces around the central courtyard (©Filippo Bolognese)

Up top, the garden will be open to all. Designed by Belgian landscape architect Wirtz International, it will be anchored by a central courtyard and threaded with gravel paths and lawns. Mature evergreens and shrubs trimmed in a style reminiscent of 19th-century parks will add an abundance of greenery.

David Chipperfield Architects is working with Athens-based executive architect Tombazis and Associates Architects on the building and collaborating with Stuttgart-based Atelier Brückner on exhibition design.

According to the AP, Sir David Chipperfield shared the following thoughts about the project at the Athens museum yesterday: “Our architectural approach has been to create a plinth growing out of the existing building, therefore fundamentally connected to the 19th-century building. But at the same time that develops into a powerful piece of architecture. The challenge, of course, is to get those two things in balance.”

At the same event, protestors gathered in opposition to the government’s plans to remove the status of this and other Greek museums from civil service oversight, a move that protestors fear could open up institutions to privatization.